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Posts Tagged ‘Marc Savard’

That was the theme of the day yesterday.  Two very unlikely losses.  Baseball first, then hockey.  We kept going back and forth, back and fourth.  We’d score a run, and they’d score a run.  They’d score a run, and we’d score a run.  No home runs for either side, and it was a pitcher’s duel which, if you consider that we had Brad Penny on the mound, is a very good thing.  Ultimately we tied it, 4-4, and the tie wasn’t broken until the twelfth inning.  And it wasn’t broken in our favor.  The Angels scored a walk-off run in their inning to win it, 5-4.  So they take the series.  Fortunately, Toronto also lost, so it doesn’t affect the standings much.  Unfortunately, they lost to the Yankees, but hey, I guess you can’t have it all.

Penny was spectacular.  Just over six innings, four runs on seven hits, only one walk, and four strikeouts, but he pitched better than those numbers would suggest.  He threw ninety-seven pitches, so he was pretty efficient, and sixty-one of those were strikes.  Penny is still a power pitcher so the fastball is key, and he had it locked yesterday.  He couldn’t solve Torii Hunter, though, who batted in the Angels’ first three runs, all coming with two outs.  The bullpen did a good job for holding the fort; eventually something had to give, but why it was us and not them I’ll never know.  Okajima pitched very well; his OPP AVG is .180 and he has a 1.15 WHIP.  Fantastic.  Ramirez and Papelbon were spot-on as usual, and it was Manny Delcarmen who gave up the winning run and took the loss.  No, that’s not a mistake.  I wish it were.  Trust me, if you told me yesterday that Delcarmen would be the pitcher giving up the winning run, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Pedroia the Destroyah was back in the lineup yesterday.  He was pretty annoyed that Tito sat him two days ago, but a manager has to do what a manager has to do.  You love to see that competitive spirit from Pedroia, but you also have to think of what’s best for him down the stretch.  Pedroia had a phenomenal day, going four for six with a walk, a run, and an RBI that tied the game at four.  He’s batting .336.  It’s like the kid is perpetually on fire.  It just doesn’t stop.  Ellsbury went two for six with a walk and an RBI, so he extends his hitting streak to ten games.  And heading into yesterday, he was second in the American League in singles with thirty-six.  That tells you he’s using his bat but also his legs; he’s taking what should be bloops and sacrifices and turning them into infield hits.  And Julio Lugo did swimmingly, going five for six with a run, an RBI, and a steal.  He and Pedroia alone accounted for nine hits.  It was ridiculous.  I never thought I’d see the day.  Julio Lugo? Five for six? And he had a bit of smart base running too, staying in a rundown in the tenth long enough to allow Ellsbury to move into scoring position from first.  Maybe he’s finally turning that corner, after two-plus years here, after all those errors and strikeouts and flyouts and errors and groundouts and lineouts and errors.  It’s about time.  Bay batted in the fourth run with his ninth double of the season.

We went three for twenty-two with runners in scoring position and left seventeen men on base.  David Ortiz went 0 for 7 and struck out three times.  That’s not a mistake.  It’s something I never thought I’d say, but it’s not a mistake.  0 for 7.  That scares me big time.  Ortiz has played in thirty-four of our thirty-five games this year.  I think he could use a mental break.  And fast.

In the field, though, it was all outfield.  Jason Bay had some good plays in left  In the seventh he made a beautiful diving catch; he tracked the ball, he dove, he caught, he flipped, he rose, and he threw.  Beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful diving catch, even if the Angels did score their fourth run on it.  JD Drew was very busy as well in right field, and he flashed some serious leather.  In the fourth, he gunned down Juan Rivera at second when he tried to stretch his hit into a double.  The ball dropped, and Drew picked it up, turned, and threw with pinpoint precision.  Then in the eighth he saved the tie.  A ball falling fast and Drew made the call, catching it in shallow right field, and he fired to Tek to get Abreu out at the plate.  So he had two assists and participated in a double play.  Epic.

Tito was ejected for the first time this year in the tenth when he argued balls and strikes with home plate umpire Bill Miller.  But Tito was absolutely right.  Miller was inconsistent and he’d been making some very questionable calls all afternoon, and after a point enough is enough, and you have to come out and defend your players.

So our struggles with the Angels continue.  But at least we can be comforted by the fact that we own them in October, and that’s where it really counts.  Of course, first you have to get to October, but I don’t think that’s an issue for us.  We’ll be playing fall ball.  And hopefully we’ll face the Angels in the ALDS again this year.  We’re 13-4 overall against the Angels in postseason play, and we’re 9-1 against them in our last three ALDSs.  So ultimately I think we’re good.  We’re off to Seattle tonight, and it’ll be Lester at Chris Jakubauskas.  I’m hoping a trip home for Lester will help him get back on track.

In other news, hockey season is over as of last night.  We dropped Game Seven to the Hurricanes in a very tense sudden death overtime, 3-2.  It was horrible.  And it felt just like October 2008, when the Red Sox were down 3-1, battled back to make it 3-3, and lost Game Seven as well.  So Cam Ward still hasn’t lost a playoff series.  High points for us were that Marc Savard was back in the game yesterday despite hurting his knee previously, Tim Thomas made some very difficult and very athletic saves, and that play by Aaron Ward to pull the puck literally off our own goal line and preserve our tie was just outstanding.  The game- and series-winning goal was scored by Scott Walker, who really shouldn’t have been in the game in the first place because he should’ve been suspended for going after Aaron Ward even though he never dropped his gloves.  So all in all it was a very tense, very well-played, and very unfair loss.  Just sayin’.  But no one can say we didn’t go down without a fight.  Thanks for a great season, and we’re looking forward to bringing the Stanely Cup to Boston next year.

Getty Images

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That would be my suggestion to the Rays.  It’s early in the season, and we haven’t been playing our best ball against Tampa Bay, but we’re getting there.  Last night was huge and very significant progress.  With last night’s win our record against the Rays improves to three and five, and we’re getting more and more comfortable with playing them, neutralizing their strengths and exploiting their weaknesses, playing our game to shut them down.  Needless to say, by now I think Shields has officially lost his title of “Big Game James,” because that was a pretty big game for them.  It’s one thing to beat us on the road, but to beat us at Fenway takes a little something extra, and if you don’t have that, ultimately you’re toast.

We won by a final score of 7-3, and it was a great game.  It was one of those games that was pretty exciting throughout, keeping you on the edge of your seat until we blew it open.  Tampa Bay scored a run in the first, third, and fourth innings.  They never scored again.  In the sixth inning Jason Bay hit a ridiculous three-run home run.  That’ll teach Shields to leave a fastball over the plate.  Bay does not miss.  He does not.  That’s his ninth home run of the year.  And I knew about his power, but I didn’t know his power was this impressive.  That ball was headed for the Monster.  I’m telling you, the man is on fire.  The man is so good it’s scary.  He finished the night two for four and is batting .323.  Then, with Lowell on, Drew came up to the plate and hit a ridiculous two-run home run into the bullpen in right field.  And just like that, we took the lead and never gave it up.  That was Drew’s only hit of the night, but you know what? That’s okay with me.  He’s starting to heat up, and when he does, watch out is all I have to say.  Then in the eighth we scored two more with two out, starting with a double by Ellsbury to plate Lugo, who was back in shortstop tonight as Papi DHed and Bailey played first.  Youk was out.  Pedroia batted in the other run, and that, my friends, was the ballgame.

So the rest of the spread.  Ellsbury went two for five with an RBI and a run, Pedroia the Destroyah went four for five with an RBI and a run, Lowell went three for four and scored, and Bailey, Tek, and Lugo each had themselves a hit.  Papi was the only one who went hitless, and even he drew a walk.  No errors, even with Lugo at short.  I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

But we have another man of the hour.  Brad Penny.  Another excellent start.  I think he finally snapped his streak of alternating good with bad.  6.1 innings pitched, three runs on eight hits, two walks, two strikeouts.  His ERA is 6.90 right now, but if he keeps this up that’ll go down considerably.  I mean that was basically an ideal start for a fifth starter who’s making a comeback.  He went deep into the game, limited the offensive damage of the opposition, and put us in a position to clean up.  Which is exactly what we did.  Okajima, Ramirez, and Papelbon were perfect.  I always feel like I’m repeating myself when I say that.  And I am.  And that’s the best part.

In other news, the Bruins dropped Game Four to the Canes last night.  We lost, 4-1, and that’s the same score we used to send Montreal to the golf course in Game Four of Round One.  On the bright side, Marc Savard scored his fifth goal of the playoffs to end our power play drought.  But I don’t like it.  I don’t like it at all.  Tim Thomas is so much better than that score.  We as a team are so much better than that score.  Am I worried? Yes, but I also firmly believe that we can come back from this.  First of all, we’re way too deep to let Carolina walk all over us.  Second of all, we’re the Boston Bruins, with the emphasis on the “Boston” part.  We wrote the book on coming back from the brink of elimination in the playoffs.  The 2007 World Series championship team was in exactly this situation in the ALCS, down 3-1 in the series against Cleveland, but our season didn’t end there.  No, sir.  So we have depth, skill, and an entire season of being the best on our side, coupled with a proud tradition of bouncing back.  I think we’re covered.  Game Five tomorrow at 7:30PM.  We need this one.

Daylife

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That was close.  Too close.  With Josh Beckett on the mound, it really shouldn’t have come to that.  It’s a win, and I’ll take it, but it wasn’t his best work.  Decent, but not spectacular, and after seeing what he’s capable of, you come to expect spectacular from him.  Beckett was cruising, having himself a great outing, working with a six-run lead, until the fifth inning, during which the O’s scored four runs.  Those were the only runs they scored, but in a single inning? Against Beckett? To be fair, only three of those were earned (the fourth run was a courtesy of Nick Green, who missed a catch), which isn’t that bad, but still.  At least if the runs are spread out, you can say he had a little issue here, a little issue there, but if a team scores three runs against you in a single inning, your first thought is something’s up, and it’s not just Beckett’s ERA.  Beckett lasted through the sixth.  Three earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts.  He walked four.  No home runs though, so I’m happy about that.  Not a horrible outing, but not a great one either.  And from your Number One starter, you need great.  Consistently.  Especially if your Number One starter is Josh Beckett.

But on the bright side, the offense took care of him.  I think it’s safe to say we’re officially on an upward climb as far as our hitting is concerned.  We’ve been doing some great stuff at the plate these past few games.  In fact, we had a four-run inning of our own in the third.  David Ortiz finally had a multi-hit game, going two for five.  Youk went four for five and batted in four (count ’em: four) runs.  He is just on fire.  He’s batting .467.  And he cranked a very powerful three-run long ball in the third, his third of the year.  If he hit a triple last night he would’ve completed the circuit for the first time in his career.  Lowell wen two for four with an RBI.  And the captain went one for two with two walks and an RBI.  So those are the six runs, with good hitting up and down the order.  Bay stole and Pedroia got caught.

The relief was perfect.  Okajima and Saito managed to keep it together, allowing one hit and striking out four between them.  Paps got the save and lowered his ERA to 1.69.  Beckett got the win, so he’s two and one.

Red Sox Nation can celebrate the home opener at the new Yankee Stadium, which the Yankees lost miserably to the Indians by a score of 10-2.  But just to make sure they got the message, the Indians absolutely slaughtered them last night with a 22-4 victory.  That’s not a mistake; I actually meant to write 22-4.  The Indians scored fourteen runs in the second inning, good for a Yankees record of most runs given up in a single frame.   How long did it take? Thirty-seven minutes.  The last time a club scored fourteen runs in a single frame was about six years ago when we did it against the Marlins.  The last time the Tribe did it was in 1950.  Wang and Anthony Clagget were on in that inning, and that’ll raise Wang’s ERA to 34.50.  Twenty-five hits in total for the Tribe, and the twenty-two runs ties the most they’ve ever surrendered at home.  I’m telling you, no matter how many times I read about this game, I just can’t stop laughing.  I mean it’s just sad.  Sad and pathetic.  And awesome.  The Yankees have to have the worst bullpen in Major League Baseball.  At this point I think Joe Girardi should seriously think about sitting Wang and putting Swisher in the rotation.

In other news, the Bruins had an absolutely outstanding night last night, burying the Habs, 5-1, at the Garden.  Two goals in the first period, three in the second.  Marc Savard scored two and almost had a hat trick.  Carey Price had no chance.  So we head to Montreal two games ahead, and if this continues I think we’ll sweep in four.  We play again tomorrow at 7:00PM.

Lowell Sun

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January’s winding down, and we all know what that means: moving vans on Yawkey Way headed to Fort Myers.  I’m so stoked.  And we’ve done some good business this week.  We cut a one-year deal with Javier Lopez for $1.35 million and avoided arbitration.  And we neatly avoided arbitration with Paps through a one-year, $6.25 million deal.  It’s the richest contract ever for a reliever in his first year eligible for arbitration, and it makes him the eleventh-highest paid reliever in the Major Leagues.  And his agent isn’t even Scott Boras (he’s with Sam and Seth Levinson).  But he deserves it.  I mean, the man is a beast.  He’s literally the best closer in the game right now; ask anybody.  Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve wanted to lock up a multi-year deal, but this is fine for now.  He’s not a free agent until after the 2011 season, and avoiding arbitration was a good move.  It’s a very ugly process, because you’ve got the player and the team presenting salary proposals to a panel of three arbitrators, who choose one one of the proposals after the player argues for his worth and the team argues against it.  So basically the team talks down its own player in front of a third party.  It’s totally base; let’s say the team and the player emerge from arbitration with a salary in place.  Then what? The player continues playing for the team that verbally destroyed him.  That can’t be good.  So it’s great that we’ve never gone to arbitration during Theo’s tenure.  Yet more proof that he’s a genius.

We dealt David Pauley to the Orioles for reliever Randor Bierd, and we dealt David Aardsma to the Mariners for lefty Fabian Williamson, a nice addition to our minor league roster.  As far as Varitek is concerned, you know how it goes.  Everything’s still under wraps.  But it has been confirmed that there’s an offer on the table, and this time I’d be very surprised if Varitek doesn’t accept.  When Varitek declined arbitration, he gave up an opportunity to secure a salary at least comparable with last season’s, somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million.  I doubt the offer he’s been given is worth that much, but he has nowhere else to go.  Other teams don’t want to give up draft picks to sign him, and Scott Boras epically failed.  I know I said that last week, but it never gets old.  Scott Boras totally, completely, absolutely, positively, epically epically failed.  So, in all likelihood, look for Varitek to return, but at a discount.

I think it’s worth mentioning that Manny Ramirez, one of the great right-handed hitters of this period in the sport’s history and pretty much guaranteed future Hall-of-Famer, hasn’t signed a contract with anyone yet.  I wonder why.  I’m not worried, though.  Boras will figure something out.  It’s just a shame that Manny’s own worst enemy is himself.

Sean Casey is retiring; he’s already accepted a position with the MLB Network.  Good for him.  His personality is perfect for television.  Unfortunate that we won’t get to see him at bat anymore, though.  He hit line drives like nobody’s business last year.  Jon Lester will be honored with the Hutch Award, given for honor, courage, and dedication.  That’s basically Lester in a nutshell.  That, and he’s also very intelligent, which we can see in this quote:

Anytime you can go to Boston and somewhat succeed, if not succeed, you can pretty much play or pitch anywhere, maybe with the exception of New York.

Because who in their right mind would want to play for New York? (With the emphasis, of course, on the “right mind” part.)

Anyway, the end of the offseason is in sight, and maybe we didn’t accomplish everything on our list, but we’re in a good position for 2009.  We saved money while maintaining our flexibility, we secured deals with our home-grown talent, and we fixed last year’s big problem: bullpen depth.  I think it’s safe to say our bullpen is pretty much locked and loaded.

In other news, it was All-Star Weekend for the NHL, and Boston was represented nicely with four of our finest: Blake Wheeler, Marc Savard, Tim Thomas, and Big Zdeno Chara.  All four did Boston proud. Wheeler won the YoungStars MVP, Savard came in second in the Elimination Shootout while Thomas made some unbelievable saves, and Chara defended his title as Hardest Shot with a record-shattering 105.4 miles per hour.  Can you believe that? 105.4 miles per hour! I saw it, and I still can’t believe it.  I’m telling you, I would not want to be on the receiving end of one of those.  And as for the All-Star Game itself, the Eastern Conference walked away with the victory.  The final score was 12-11.  It was a shootout to end all shootouts, and guess who was in net for the winners.  Tim Thomas.  He stopped Shane Doan, winner of the Elimination Shootout, no less, and Rick Nash.  Roberto Luongo stopped only Vincent Lecavalier.  Thomas should absolutely win the Vezina Trophy this season.  Nuff ced.

Bruins Images

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Mixed results this week, but we’ll go with the good stuff first.  And few things are better in the offseason than tipping your hat to a new Hall of Famer.  Congratulations, Jim Rice, on making it in! It’s about time; it certainly took the writers long enough.  But 382 home runs, 1,451 RBIs, and 14 tries later, the man is in! And he deserves it.  Add to those stats a .298 career batting average and the 1978 American League MVP Award and just try to tell me he’s not Hall material.  Finally, Jim Rice gets his due.  And we’re not talking landslide here; he appeared on 76.4% of the ballots and garnered 412 votes, 1.4% and 7 more than the necessary amounts.  But, he’s in.  Finally.  Just sayin’.  And who could forget his good Samaritan moment in ’82, when an opponent’s foul ball hit a four-year-old in the forehead, and the kid started bleeding heavily.  Rice ran into the stands and got to him before the medics and carried him to an ambulance.  He saved the kid’s life.  How’s that for a Hall of Famer.

John Smoltz has been officially introduced, and I think his friend Tom Glavine said it best:

I know it’s going to be fun for him playing in Boston.  I’m envious that he’ll be playing in Boston and I never got to play in Boston.

Again, just sayin’.  But wait; there’s more.  Turns out that Youk and Theo finally reached a consensus; he’s locked up through 2012 with a four-year contract extension and an option for 2013, and that, my friends, is definitely something to be happy about.  I mean he’s probably the best first baseman out there right now; two seasons ago he didn’t make an error all year and last season he split time seamlessly between first and third.  And that’s just his defense.  You have to like Theo’s style: building a team with home-grown talent.  I’m a big fan.  It’s always a plus when your team has a front office and a business side that you can respect.  That’s way more than I can say for most other organizations around the league, especially one in particular, and we all know what I’m referring to.  The Yankees will deliver $180 million to a single player over eight years.  The Red Sox will distribute $14 million to five guys for one year each.  What this does is it maintains our financial flexibility, and in a depressed market that’s absolutely key.  When other teams are busy unloading contracts in the middle of the season, we’re busy weighing our options and taking advantage of opportunities.  The whole Tex thing wasn’t pretty, but as I said you never know.  In Theo we trust, as they say.

But, as always, it’s never smooth sailing, even with the home-grown boys.  Papelbon filed for arbitration, so unless he and the front office reach an agreement within the next few days, let the games begin.  I really hope this doesn’t get ugly.  To be fair, he does deserve some kind of raise.  We paid him $775,000 last season, which was an absolute steal.  I don’t even want to think about how many figures he’d command on the market.  Javier Lopez filed also, and he was surprisingly consistent last season.  I wouldn’t necessarily give him a raise this time around, but if his consistency continues he could be in line to become our principle setup man (unless Okajima permanently returns to form, which would be awesome, because the dude was bringin’ it in ’07).

Last but not least, negotiations with Jason Varitek have taken a surprising turn.  Varitek actually asked to meet with John Henry in Atlanta and said afterwards that the meeting “went well.” That’s a very good sign.  Let’s recap: this past season was the last year in Tek’s four-year contract, so he filed for free agency in October.  He was offered arbitration but declined because who but Scott Boras was convinced that he’d be able to land a long-term deal and a nice pile of cash elsewhere, but that was not going to happen because if another team signed him, it’d have to concede a first-round draft pick to us.  Granted, it’s not over yet, and we’ll still have to wait and see, but either way I think it’s safe to say this was an epic fail on Scott Boras’s part.  An epic fail.  Scott Boras epically failed.  I think I’ll say that again: Scott Boras epically, epically failed.

One other thing I’d like to see the front office do in addition to restoring some order to our catcher situation is to lock up a deal with Jason Bay.  He was fantastic.  Came over mid-season with  some big shoes to fill but put the pressure in check and just lit it up.  He’s a natural in the postseason, he runs the bases, he plays the wall nicely, and he’s reasonable price-wise.  Lock it up.

Oh, yeah.  Gabe Kapler is a Ray, and Alex Cora is a Met.  Who knew.

One last point.  On Thursday owners approved a proposal by Bud Selig that ensures that every postseason game will be played through, clearly a response to the ’08 Series’s Game Five, the one that was stopped on account of rain, started again 46 hours later, and eventually proved to be the clincher for the Phillies.  Major League Baseball also adopted a new procedure for determining home-field advantage in tiebreakers for playoff spots.  Instead of a coin toss, it’ll be decided by head-to-head records, intra-division records, and second-half, intra-league records, clearly a response to the White Sox winning home-field advantage by a coin toss and beating the Twins, 1-0, for a playoff spot last year.  I’ll tell you something: Minnesota is not happy right now.  Minnesota is seething right now.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps yesterday, 2-1.  Marc Savard scored our only goal in the second period.  On the bright side, it wasn’t a blowout, but it wasn’t our typically dominant performance.  No, sir.

Frank Galasso

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