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Posts Tagged ‘Manny Delcarmen’

On Wednesday, we celebrated the sixth anniversary of the day we won Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS.  The day we hand-delivered a world of hurt to the New York Yankees.  The day we crafted a homemade mountain of win.  And the last day that we would believe and keep the faith in vain.  That day marked the greatest comeback in sports history and the beginning of a journey that would take us right to the first Rolling Rally in almost a century.  That, ladies and gentlemen, was an unbelievably miraculous day.  It’ll never get tired, it’ll never get old, and it’ll always remind us where we came from and how we got to where we are today.  The gift is in the struggle.  The struggle was long.  But now the struggle is over, and we are awesome.

Part of where we come from is Fenway Park.  The team just wouldn’t be the same without it.  Thankfully, our ownership group recognizes this scientifically verifiable fact and is committed to taking care of it.  As usual, the brass unveiled renovation plans, which include three new high-definition video screens, concrete repair, waterproofing, concession and merchandise improvement, and something most definitely worth debating.  They’re considering widening the bullpens in order to make relievers more comfortable.  Right now, they’re pretty cramped, but the new plans would add workout facilities, bathrooms, and just some space and room to move around.  But there’s a tradeoff.  While widening the bullpens by six feet would bring them within Major League Baseball regulations, they’d bring the right field fence in by six to nine feet.  So, yes, wider bullpens might make a reliever more competitive and effective if he’s comfortable while warming, but the same thing goes for the visitor’s relievers, plus the fact that a closer right field wall may mean more ground-rule doubles and, worse, home runs.

When I said that this point was worth debating, that was an understatement of substantial proportions.  This is not a good change to make.  First of all, in terms of the reliever’s competitiveness, it makes absolutely no difference: either things stay as they are, or things change and the reliever becomes more competitive to a degree just sufficient enough to deal with the dimensions change.  Either way, it’s the same result.  But it’s more than that.  This is Fenway Park, America’s most beloved ballpark and the oldest in the country.  You can’t just tinker with Fenway Park’s dimensions.  You just can’t.  Part of our ridiculously massive home field advantage is the insanity that is the dimensions of the outfield: you have this small sliver of territory in left, you have the dreaded triangle behind a huge yard in center, and you have an obscenely large plane in right.  Diminishing that extremity makes Fenway more similar to other parks, which diminishes our home field advantage, not to mention the fact that the dimensions haven’t been changed since 1940 when Tom Yawkey moved the bullpens to the outfield in the first place, and he did that because Ted Williams was jacking balls out of the park left and right.  He didn’t do it because he thought that maybe, possibly, perhaps a reliever might or might not be more competitive just enough to offset the other dimensions change that such a move would cause.  Ted Williams was Ted Williams, and sure, nowadays we deal with opponents hitting home runs into the bullpens too, but Ted Williams was so potent that the tradeoff was worth it.  I don’t think it is in this case.

If something is not broken, there is absolutely no need to fix it.  And in no conceivable sense is Fenway Park broken.  The interior of the bullpen, as in the people who use it, does indeed need work.  And that’s one of the hardest jobs a general manager has to face.  Fixing the bullpen is always a challenge.  The way you fix it one year is in no way the same as the way you’ll fix it next year.  Your needs change every year.  The market changes every year.  As Theo himself said, basically you want a group of guys who can hold down spots.  You want a lefty specialist, a long man, a setup man, and a closer.  And you want a few others to fill it out.  We have a closer.  We have a setup man.  But the other spots aren’t so well-defined.  Okajima isn’t as reliable as he used to be.  Delcarmen and Ramirez are gone.  Doubront is a starter by trade, and Bowden and Richardson weren’t all that great.  So a really good acquisition this winter would be Scott Downs, but we’d probably have to give up a first-round draft pick.  So there’s no way to predict who Theo is going to get, how much he’s going to pay, how many years he’s going to give, and the list goes on.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  One thing’s for sure: Theo is firmly committed to improving the bullpen, so we can look forward to some sort of change come next year.  Theo always keeps the bullpen in mind – indeed, his first signature move was wrenching Alan Embree from the Padres in 2002 and, in light of what I opened this post with, we all know how epically glad we are for that – so whatever he does will be a step in the right direction.  (The obvious exception being Eric Gagne, but if that’s the worst mistake he’s going to make, I’ll live with it.)

Congratulations to the sizeable chunk of the team that was nominated for MLB.com’s This Year In Baseball Awards.  Tito is in line for best manager, while Beltre is in line for top hitter.  Lester and Buchholz are both in line for top starting pitcher.  Paps is in line for best closer.  Bard is in line for top setup man.  The game we played against Texas on April 20, the one where Cameron and Ellsbury were both placed on the DL so McDonald was randomly called up an hour before the first pitch and proceeded to tie the game with a pinch-hit homer in the eighth and win it with a walkoff single off the Monster in the ninth, is in line for most memorable game of the season.  And Nava’s grand slam is in line for best moment of the season.  All those nominations right there just go to show you what kind of team we were and what we could have done had we stayed healthy.  I’m just saying.

Speaking of just saying, the Yankees were eliminated by the Rangers.  Let me say that again: the New York Yankees are out of the playoffs.  One more time: the Evil Empire plays no more in October.  In the same week that we celebrated the above anniversary.  Coincidence? I think not.  Order has now been restored to the universe.

In other news, the Bruins played three games this week.  We started off by beating the Caps, 3-1.  We continued by beating the Caps, 4-1, in our home opener.  Timmy Thomas made thirty-eight saves.  Too bad we had to end it with a close 3-2 loss to the Rangers.  But I have to say, I like what I’m seeing.  The team is young but very talented and capable.  What we are seeing right now is greatness in the making, and I have full confidence that the black and gold will be a force this year.  The Pats played a fantastic game against the Ravens last Sunday.  We won, 23-20, in overtime thanks to a barely fair field goal.  But a win is a win, and we will most certainly take that one.

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Wow.  Just, wow.  If I had to describe the ideal opening of a series against Seattle in Seattle, last night would pretty much be it.  It was a textbook example of what you’re supposed to do when you play a team that’s bad.  Okay, maybe I envisioned a slugfest, which obviously didn’t happen, but everything else was exactly right.  I can live with the absence of offensive domination so massive that if the lopsided score had a weight it would tip over immediately so long as we win, and we win nicely.  Not by barely eking it out but by posting a healthy lead and maintaining it.  That’s something we didn’t do the last time we played Seattle, so it’s nice to actually play like we can for a change.

You could tell when Lester took the mound that he wasn’t about to play games.  You could tell that he knew he had a job to do and that he was going to do it.  He had his way with the Mariners, who looked like minor leaguers who had absolutely no idea what was going on.  His cut fastball was the best I’ve seen it all season.  So were his sinker and curveball.  And he threw in a good changeup every now and then.  You’d be hard-pressed to find an at-bat where he fell behind in the count, and he threw his offspeeds effectively for strikes.  He completely befuddled the hitters en route to twelve strikeouts over eight of the most solid innings you could possibly get from a pitcher.  Seven were swinging, and four were looking.  I’m telling you, there’s something very satisfying about watching the opposition take cuts at air.  He was very aggressive and packed the zone with a world of nasty.  This was his fourth consecutive start with ten-plus K’s, the longest such streak in the Majors since Jake Peavy in 2007 from April 25 to May 11 for the Padres.  Nobody in the American League did it since Johan Santana with five starts in 2004.  The last pitcher to do it for us was obviously Pedro Martinez with five in 2001.  But Lester is the first lefty in franchise history.  That brings his K total for the year to 209, making him one of five Sox pitchers to post at least two hundred K’s in consecutive seasons.  The other four are Cy Young, Smokey Joe Wood, Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martinez.  That’s some heady company.  And if anyone belongs there, it’s Lester.  The best part is that technically he’s not even a strikeout pitcher.  He just wants outs, period.  And if he can do it more efficiently with groundouts, lineouts, and flyouts, he will.  The strikeouts are just a side venture, if you will.  That’s why he’s the man.

He last pitched at Safeco Field on July 24 and took a bid for a perfect game past the first out in the sixth, but we ended up losing.  Not so last night.  He picked up his seventeenth win of the year, also a new career high, en route to a twenty-win season.  He allowed only one run on three hits while walking three.  That’s it.  So it’s not that the Mariners had opportunities and didn’t capitalize on them.  They just didn’t have any opportunities on which to capitalize.  He strode out there and showed everybody how it’s done.  He was extraordinarily dirty, and that’s all there is to it.

We won, 5-1, showcasing the young talent because they’re the only ones still healthy.  We racked up three in the second.  Beltre scored on a groundout by Reddick, Lowrie scored on a double by Nava, and Nava scored on a double by Anderson.  It’s good to see Reddick and Anderson back in action; it reminds you that the future is bright, even if the present may be grim.  In the eighth, Kalish ripped a two-run homer into the right field seats.  Fister hung a change at the belt.  For Kalish, it was only a matter of doing what he’d always been taught to do with something like that: clock it.

The kids had some nice plays in the field, too.  No errors last night while Seattle made two, so they were pretty comfortable.  Speaking of defense, how about Scutaro’s flip in the third? Ichiro chopped one to Scutaro who made a running flip out of his glove to Anderson at first.  It was masterful.

You’ll never believe this, but the barrage of injuries continues.  Honestly, you’d think it would just stop by now being that there’s only half a month left in the season.  But no.  The injury bug has to rub salt in it.  Turns out that Drew left the game on Sunday because of a full-fledged injury.  He took a wide turn around first on a single, and you could tell that something was wrong when he ran back.  He jammed his right ankle.  And Doubront, one big reason why we traded Delcarmen, will probably be done for the season with his upper pectoral injury, specifically the left collarbone area.  “Done for the season” is such a funny phrase these days being that we’re in the middle of September.  If I sound bitter about it, it’s because I am.  We get it.  Enough with the injuries already.

We’ve got a two-game winning streak going, so that’s good.  Mostly it was just a blast to watch Lester go to work.  As far as Cy Young candidates are concerned, he has to be one of them.  He’s been outstanding, and it’s the middle of September and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.  Dice-K would do well to take a page from his book when he takes the hill tonight.  Let’s win a series.

In other news, football season officially started yesterday, and the Pats kicked it off (pun intended) on a high note by beating the Bengals, 38-24.

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Twelve days ago, I predicted that the last twelve days would be the deciding twelve days.  I said that if we dug ourselves into an even bigger hole, we’d fall victim to a math problem, but if we managed to climb out of our then-manageable hole, we’d have something to work with.  And all I can say is that the current standings were like a huge bucket of freezing cold water.  There are no words to adequately describe the fury and depression induced by the current state of affairs expressed by the standings.  We are a full nine games out of first place.  We are a full eight and a half games out of the Wild Card.  And it’s the middle of September.  Now, I’ll never say that anything is impossible for us until that becomes the stone-cold reality, but all I’m saying is that this is a completely unmitigated disaster.  It’s so wrong.  And the worst part is that there’s no single identifiable cause of it all.  It just is, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.  Between the injuries and, well, the injuries, it is what it is.  And that’s just about the worst possible situation you can be in at this time of year.

Let’s pick up where we left off.  What was supposed to be a booster for both standings and morale turned out to be a big disappointment.  We dropped the series opener to Baltimore, 2-5.  Beckett pitched a full seven innings, but he allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits.  You can thank Scutaro for that unearned run; his sore right shoulder, specifically an inflamed rotator cuff, yielded a bad and costly throw.  Doubront allowed the final two Baltimore runes, both of them solo shots; turns out he had a strained pectoral muscle.  And anytime you lose to the worst team in the American League with a supposed ace on the mound, you know that’s a bad day right there.  We certainly had our opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage of any of them.  That loss made Beckett five and two lifetime in Camden Yards.  Also, Lowell got pretty incensed but somehow wasn’t ejected.  We won the second game, 9-6; it was conspicuously not Lester’s best work, but we’ll take any win we can get.  He gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings, but he walked only two while striking out ten.  He allowed four runs in the first inning alone, but you better believe we battled all the way back.  That game was all about the extra bases; three doubles and three well-hit home runs got the job done.  Home plate umpire Tom Hallion had to leave with one out left after sustaining an injury on a foul tip.  We won the series by taking the third game, 6-4.  Dice-K was mediocre at best but picked up the win anyway.  Paps made his thirty-fifth save, becoming the first closer to post thirty-five saves in each of his first five seasons.  The offense held up its end of the bargain as well; we scored five runs in the second inning and never looked back.  Beltre, of course, hit a home run.

Hurricane Earl postponed Manny Ramirez’s return to Fenway to Saturday, when we played a doubleheader against the Other Sox.  Ramirez apologized about the way he wrote his one-way ticket out of here, and Youk confirmed that he received an apology from him after their dugout tiff in June that year.  To put it simply, we got swept.  We lost both games of the twin bill by final scores of 1-3, and we lost the finale, 5-7.  The opener was just absolutely heartbreaking.  We took a two-run lead into the ninth only to have it evaporate completely in four walks.  He may have made history a few days before, but he blew this one big time, and that was not something we could afford to have done.  There was no way on this planet that we could possibly have afforded to have done that.  That was terrible and massively costly.  And what’s worse is that he threw forty-eight pitches in the process, which made him unavailable for the next few games.

The Rays came to town on Monday, when we gave off such a flash of brilliance that I’m convinced everyone forgot about the standings completely as they witnessed the performance of what is undoubtedly a team with the caliber of a World Series champion.  And that’s what makes the results of the last twelve days so hard to bear.  This is a team that could have won it all, but then we just didn’t.  Having about half your lineup out for the season makes it hard.  But Monday was awesome.  We did everything right in that game and won it by the fantastically lopsided score of 12-5.  Lester owned.  Papi went two for three with a double and a homer; Beltre and Kalish also homered.  It was simply awesome.  That’s all I can say about it.  In the midst of profound mediocrity and inconsistency, it was a very welcome breath of fresh air.  But the series that began with such promise didn’t end that way.  In fact, Tampa Bay would mete out almost exact revenge the following night while doing us two better as they whipped us, 5-14.  It was as devastating as the previous night was elating.  Seriously.  I am convinced that the outcomes of those two games, combined with the way the season’s been going, has made Red Sox Nation bipolar.  Dice-K was absolutely awful.  I can find nothing positive to say about his performance, or rather lack thereof.  He allowed eight runs on as many hits in less than five innings while walking four and striking out four.  He allowed two homers.  And the bullpen was no help at all.  So although we collected three doubles and a homer of our own, courtesy of McDonald, we ended up right back where we started the series.  It was like our own romp didn’t even happen at all.  Until the following night, when we reenacted our first romp, just to remind the Rays who they were dealing with and just to make us even more bipolar.  We won, 11-5.  Instead of pitching Buchholz on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, Wakefield started, picked up the win to become the oldest Red Sox player to do so, and incidentally is also the recipient of Boston’s nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award.  And rightly so.  We smashed five (count ‘em: five!) home runs, two by Scutaro, who also had a double to his credit.  Beltre batted in his 1,001st career run.  It was sensational.  And it made you think about what the season would have been like and where we would be now if we’d just played like that all along.

We took that momentum right through our day off and squandered it during our first game against Oakland.  That’s pretty much the story of the entire season: we’d win a game, or maybe two in a row, and we’d build some momentum but then we’d drop it like a hot potato.  That’s corny, but that’s pretty much what we’ve been doing since April.  The A’s shut us out.  Then the A’s beat us by a run.  Tonight the A’s will try to sweep us, and I really don’t think we should let that happen.  (Note the sarcasm.)

Odds and ends: Hermida was released from the PawSox, and we traded Delcarmen to the Rockies because, even though he’s great and has a lot of potential, it never comes to fruition consistently.  You can have a guy with all the potential in the world, but if he doesn’t convert it on a regular basis, you’d be better off with a guy who’s at least consistently decent.  And it wasn’t like Delcarmen was that amazing anyway.  Doubront eclipsed him and became Tito’s go-to man in high-pressure middle-inning situations.  We picked up cash considerations and minor league righty Chris Balcom-Miller.  Pedroia has officially undergone surgery, so his season is officially over.  No surprise there.  Lowell is committed to playing through a fractured rib.  That’s a big deal.  This guy is tough as nails.  That and he’s retiring at the end of the year, so he doesn’t have an entire career to jeopardize.  We moved Cameron to the sixty-day DL to make room for righty Matt Fox, who we claimed off waivers from the Twins.  Buchholz was August’s American League Pitcher of the Month.  Tek is back in action.

So that’s it.  That’s that.  It’s cruel.  It’s just cruel.  Nobody played with more heart and hustle this year than we did, considering the fact that we spent the entire season as the walking wounded.  Technically, we’re not eliminated yet.  But you know it’s a bad sign when you’re down to technicalities and magic numbers.  A really bad sign.  It’s painful.  It’s really painful.  It’s really, really painful.  And it feels like a second version of 2006, only a lot worse.  It’s terrible and horrible and I really just can’t even talk about it.  Seriously.

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Tuesday’s game was rained out, so we played a double-header yesterday.  We split, so standings-wise, it’s like we didn’t play at all.

Beckett started first.  As it turns out, we barely eked out a win.  Beckett was phenomenal through six; in that time, he shut out and one-hit the Mariners while striking out six.  He handled the lefties with his two-seam and used his breaking ball.  Meanwhile, we tabbed a four-spot in the bottom of the inning.  Beltre singled in Scutaro, V-Mart scored on Lowell’s sac fly, and Nava hit a two-run single in a beautiful at-bat during which he totally had Pauley’s number.  He was sitting on the corners, and that’s what he got.  Then Beckett almost squandered everything by giving up three runs in the seventh before he left, having recorded only one out.  That makes his line three runs on four hits, two of which were homers, with a walk and seven K’s over six and a third innings.  And he is very, very lucky that the offense pulled it together in the sixth and that McDonald provided some insurance in the eighth with an RBI single.  We ended up winning, 5-3.  Beckett’s best pitches were his changeup and his cutter, which is always a problem if you’re talking about a fastball pitcher who depends mostly on his power.  Both of his fastballs only got up to ninety-three miles per hour.  He was his usual aggressive self, but I’m not a fan of this one bad inning business.  I’m telling you, we were very lucky that the offense was able to do that damage in the sixth.  He picked up the win, which still makes him undefeated against the Mariners this season.  He has a 2.04 ERA and thirty-nine K’s in those six starts since coming to Boston.  Bard took care of business, followed by Paps who notched yet another save.

Dice-K’s back was sore, so Lester’s start was rescheduled from yesterday afternoon so he could take Dice-K’s spot in the rotation, and Wake was given two hours’ notice before he took the mound yesterday.  I give Wake a lot of credit for his performance as someone who was given two hours to prepare for something he hasn’t done in a long time.  He tossed one out shy of six innings, he gave up four runs, three earned and one thanks to his own throwing error, on eight hits, walked none, and struck out two.  He took the loss.  But his pitches were thrown well, he located his knuckleball about as well as anyone can locate a knuckleball, and he gets an E for Effort.  Atchison, Delcarmen, and Doubront collectively shut out Seattle.  Kalish doubled, moved to third on the first of two errors that Wilson would make, and scored on a wild pitch.  Drew hit a solo home run to center on a full-count fastball down the middle.  V-Mart did some nice glove work.  But we lost, 4-2.  It wasn’t exactly helpful that we also lost Beltre.  In the second, Beltre struck out looking, complained to home plate umpire Dan Bellino about it, and razzed Hernandez about it in the third while he was on his way to third base and Hernandez was in the dugout.  According to Beltre, he bet Hernandez before the game that he’d hit a home run, and Hernandez bet Beltre that he’d strike him out three times.  When Beltre took his position, he wasn’t happy and may have also said something to Bellino, who ejected him for only the second time in his career.  Naturally Tito, as well as the entirety of Red Sox Nation, was very incensed, so he went out to demand an explanation.  He talked to Bellino, who ejected him also, and then second base umpire Angel Hernandez got in the way, so he never really got the explanation he was looking for.

I’ve never seen that before.  Beltre and Hernandez had what Beltre said and what appeared to be a perfectly normal and benign razzing session between friends, although I will admit that he didn’t look too happy, and he got tossed for it.  That’s very strange.  And it was early enough in the game that it’s entirely possible that we lost the game because we lost Beltre.  No one can know who would have won that bet, but the umps took away our opportunity to find out and move up in the standings, which is something we desperately need to start doing.  I couldn’t believe it.  I still can’t believe it.  I think it was just a big misunderstanding.  Given Beltre’s track record, I don’t think that what he said could’ve really been that bad.  And Bellino is a young umpire.  Maybe he was just trigger-happy.

Now we turn up the heat.  We are about to play the most important series of the season to date.  We have the day off today to rest up and get zoned in, and we’re off to Tampa Bay for three games.  It is absolutely and ridiculously essential that we win.  We must win.  We absolutely, positively must win.  There’s nothing else to it.  We have our three most consistent pitchers going: Lester on Friday, Buchholz on Saturday, and Lackey on Sunday.  It’s time to play our game.  We need this.  So let’s get it.

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Whenever I talk about a truly great pitcher after a sub-par performance, I make the inevitable joke that I had no idea said pitcher was capable of allowing, say, five runs instead of the usual three or three runs instead of the usual one or one run instead of the usual shutout.  The degree of badness of a pitcher’s bad day is directly correlated with the degree of goodness of a pitcher’s good day.  That’s why a good pitcher’s bad day is a bad pitcher’s good day.

And that’s exactly why I can honestly say in all seriousness, joking aside, that I truly had absolutely no idea that Jon Lester was capable of bombing a start to the egregious extent that he did so last night.

Lester got shelled.  I haven’t seen a start this bad from any pitcher in a very, very long time.  At his worst, I don’t even think Dice-K was this bad.  This is going to be painful to talk about – it’s bad enough I had to watch the whole thing – but let’s do it.

Lester only lasted two innings.  He was finally and mercifully pulled in the third without having recorded an out.  And in those career-low two-plus innings, he somehow managed to give up a career-high nine runs on eight hits, two of which were homers, while walking three and striking out one.  We’re lucky he didn’t give up as many walks as he did runs, and we’re lucky he at least collected one K.  That’s how truly awful he was.  And he threw fifty-one pitches.  That’s half the usual total in less than half the time.  This was, without the shadow of a doubt, the absolute worst start he has ever made in his entire career.  This one start raised his ERA from 2.80 to 3.26.  And he knew it right from the first pitch.  He knew what was coming.  V-Mart knew it when he warmed him in the bullpen.

His command was utterly lacking.  His location was utterly lacking.  His movement was utterly lacking.  His cut fastball was totally lame.  His cutter and sinker were his only working pitches; too bad he threw a grand total of eight of them combined.

Both of those home runs were three-runners by Overbay on pitches that were up and right down the middle.  It was like watching a replay, and I’m thinking I already saw this once already; I don’t need to be reminded of it again.  Of course it would’ve been a replay if we were lucky.  And it was the second homer that chased Lester in the third, leaving us in a 9-zip hole that would only get deeper.

Usually this is where I say that every pitcher has his bad day and it’s particularly unfortunate and inconvenient for us that his bad day is coming now, when every game is a must-win, but I can’t say that here.  I can’t say that here because this is so incredibly beyond everything we know about the kind of bad day Lester usually has.  Usually, when Lester has a bad day, he gives up five runs.  If it’s a really bad day, he gives up six or seven.  But this I’ve never seen from him.  And I don’t really know what to make of it.

Of course that meant that the bullpen had to work overtime, and as is typical for days like this, they didn’t exactly stop the bleeding.  Atchison allowed two runs.  Bowden allowed three.  Delcarmen allowed one.  And Wake, though unearned, allowed one.

In the seventh, Dusty Brown batted in two runs with a double.  That was it for our offense for the entire game.  We lost to the Toronto Blue Jays by an incredibly painful and frustrating and disappointing and just plain miserable final score of 16-2.  It still hurts.

And as if last night couldn’t possibly have gotten any worse, Pedroia is back on the DL with soreness in his foot.  He was only back for two games.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Thankfully, the baseball gods had a world of mercy on us; the Yanks and Rays both lost last night.  The only other bright side was that the starters got a good rest.  And Yamaico Navarro, called up to take Pedroia’s roster spot, collected his first Major League hit, a pinch-hit single on a fastball down the middle for Scutaro in the fifth.  But other than that, there really wasn’t much to cheer about.  And as a result, I look forward to Lester’s next start, when he will undoubtedly unleash a world of dominance in order to make all of Red Sox Nation forget that last night even happened at all.

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I don’t really understand what went on last night.  I saw it with my own eyes while it was unfolding, and I’m still not quite sure how the whole thing happened.  It was bizarre.

Beckett took the mound and just cruised along for five full innings.  He held complete sway over the Angels lineup for half a game.  Angels would step up to the plate, and he would send them down.  He was throwing all of his pitches and hitting all of his spots.  He was ahead in the count constantly.  He was on fire.  During those five innings, he gave up no runs on two hits.  And that was it.

And with Beckett looking like that, we had no reason to believe that the solo shot Papi hit in the fourth was all we would need to win.  That shot was fantastic.  Santana’s changeup stayed up and cleared the bullpen and ended up in the right field seats.

Then all of a sudden in the sixth inning, the entire game got away from Beckett.  It was like he was holding the game in his hands and then let it slip through his fingers.  When his fall first began, it was painful because you had no idea when or if it would end.  Eventually it ended, but by then it was too late.

In the sixth, back-to-back doubles tied it.  Okay.  At that point you’re thinking it’s only a tie, just like a game starting out 0-0.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s only one run.  Then Hunter’s grounder bounced off Beltre’s glove, and you’re thinking there are two men on base but if we can just escape this inning with the one run of damage, we’ll be alright.  Then Beckett wanted to throw a fastball down and away from Matsui, but it ended up low right over the plate, and he hit a home run.  Ninety-four miles per hour on that fastball, and it broke Beckett.

Unfortunately there was more.  There was a glimmer of hope when Beckett opened the seventh with a strikeout, but he followed that with a walk and a single.  Then he was finally lifted.  And it’s just the next episode in a continuing trend of frustration, exasperation, and failure that has been the 2010 season for Josh Beckett.  He’s spent almost his entire career as an ace.  All of a sudden in 2010 he’s three and three with a 6.67 ERA.  He spent two-plus months on the DL with various back issues and then came roaring back.  His first three starts after he returned from the DL were essentially spotless, and you were thinking this is it, the ace is back, and we’re good to go.  But over his last three starts he dropped the ball, literally and figuratively, posting a record of 0-2 with a 10.69 ERA.  I’m not a fan of this trend.  Neither is Beckett.  But the competitive spirit that prompts him to beat himself up after he drops a start doesn’t change the fact that we still lost.  His final line came out to six runs on seven hits in six and one-third innings with four walks and only one K.  That’s as mediocre as you can get.

Tito replaced him with Delcarmen, who allowed both of his inherited runners to score.  Delcarmen opened his appearance with a walk.  A successful sac bunt followed, then back-to-back walks, the latter of which resulted in a run scoring.  I can’t stand that.  That is the absolute worst way for a pitcher to allow a run.  And you could see that something just wasn’t right.  His arm seemed slow.  His delivery was obviously off.

So Tito replaced him with Atchison, who allowed his inherited runner to score when Scutaro’s throw to first for the out wasn’t in time.

Wakefield pitched the last two innings of the game and provided the out only clean pitching performance of the night.  But this was also too late.  We hadn’t scored since Papi’s blast in the fourth.  But we seemed to have something on our hands in the eighth.  We loaded the bases with nobody out.  And you’re thinking there’s no way we don’t score here.  We have to score.  Anything that puts the ball in play would score at least one.  So Beltre stepped up to the plate and hit a sac fly.  We scored a run.  That was it.  Seriously.  The bases loaded with nobody out and we only managed to score one run.  We lost the game, 7-2.  And when I say we lost the game, I mean we lost it in every sense of the word.  Beckett pitched well and then he lost it.  I don’t think the offense ever had a handle on it.  Scutaro went two for five with the only multi-hit game, although Papi and Beltre both walked twice in addition to their lone hits.  Lowrie’s double and Papi’s homer were the only two extra-base hits we collected.  And the relief corps, with the exception of Wake, was epically not helpful.  We did have some flashes of brilliance on D, like Drew’s running and diving catch and Lowell’s diving catch in the third and Lowrie’s throw on the spin in the eighth.

Pedroia was scratched due to soreness in his foot, probably from stealing that base.  Salty is on the DL with some sort of infection in his right lower leg.  I seriously can not believe this.  What is happening here?

That’s the first time we’ve lost to the Angels this season.  Had we swept, we would have made the season series a perfect 10-0.  And to be honest with you, I was rather enjoying our revenge after last October.  And I don’t even want to talk about the ramifications this has for the standings.  Seriously.  I don’t even want to talk about it.  We needed that win.  I mean, we need every single win we can get our hands on, and we potentially could’ve had that one with only one or two runs.  But no.  One of our aces imploded and we lost.  So we’ll try another ace.  Toronto is coming to town tonight and we’re throwing Lester.  Lester will get it done.  Believe that.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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Yesterday’s game was one of those games where we lost but there were enough good things that happened for us to not get too down about it.  That’s always strange.  You would think that if enough good things happened in a game, we’d just win it, and we almost did, but then we didn’t.  In short, the good was Dice-K, and the bad were the bullpen and CJ Wilson.

Dice-K was absolutely excellent.  He lasted six and two-thirds innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, walked none, and struck out eight, but he wasn’t really as bad as all that.  He needed 115 pitches to do it, seventy-four of which were strikes.  In fact, he earned the five hundredth strikeout of his career in the fifth when Blanco swung through.  Blanco’s strikeout was actually the middle of three consecutive K’s.  Six of his strikeouts were swinging; two were looking.  All of his pitches were excellent, his movement was excellent, his strike zone was excellent, and I’ve never seen him get rid of the ball faster.  He was feeling the one-hundred-plus-degree heat and wanted to get out.  It was unbearable.  It was so hot that some fans opened their umbrellas.  So maybe Dice-K should just work this quickly from now on.  And this might surprise you, but this is actually Dice-K’s first loss in eight starts since he lost to the Rays on June 30.  During those eight starts, he was 3-0 with a 3.53 ERA and constantly improving.  It was the fourth time this season he didn’t walk anybody.

Salty also gets points for his work behind the dish.  In the beginning of the game, Dice-K’s fastball and cutter were absolutely terrible.  But his slider was good, so Salty picked up on that quickly and called for it.

Dice-K finally hit serious trouble in the seventh.  He opened the inning by allowing an RBI single and left with two out and two on.  It was Delcarmen who gave up a three-run homer, allowing his inherited runners to score and giving Dice-K what looks like a mediocre line.

Meanwhile, the offense was busy not doing much of anything.  We didn’t score a single run until the eighth, when we rallied and scored three on three consecutive hits.  Scutaro doubled in Patterson and McDonald sent himself and Scutaro home with a long ball to right.  But Richardson and Bowden each allowed two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, and we couldn’t come back from that, so the final score was 7-3, and that was it.

We were five and five on this road trip.  We’re six games out of first and five games out of the Wild Card with forty-three games left to play.  And just in time, we’re getting Pedroia back on Tuesday.  Win or lose, every game that goes by makes the next one more important because we’re running out of time.  We can get there.  Our rotation is excellent and our lineup, when on, is absolutely no slouch.  So we can do it.  We just need to get on a roll and not have the roll stop if we lose one game.  We’re going home to take on the Angels, which should help.  Buchholz will start the series opposite Jered Weaver.  I’m looking forward to this.

AP Photo

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