Posts Tagged ‘Marc Savard’

We celebrated the fifth anniversary of our complete and total decimation of the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS on Tuesday.  Just thinking about that 10-3 final score gives me goosebumps.  That was the greatest day in the history of New England for all of a week before we won it all.  World champions.  I said this at the time, and I say it every year, because it’s true: it never gets old.  No matter how many wins anyone else may be able to rack up, none of them will ever measure up to 2004.  Ever.  And no defeat will ever be as painful as the one the Yankees experienced.  There’s a reason why it’s called the greatest comeback in the history of baseball.  And I wouldn’t have wanted to get to the big stage any other way.

Meanwhile, Tim Bogar and Brad Mills interviewed for the Astros’ managerial job.  That’s not something I want to hear.  Mills has been our bench coach for the past six seasons, and he’s done a great job.  Obviously I’m rooting for his success, but I just hope that success is achieved in Boston, not in Houston.

And supposedly we’re chasing Adrian Gonzalez via trade.  This could get very interesting, very quickly.  At twenty-seven years of age, he hit forty home runs, batted in ninety-nine RBIs this year, led the Major Leagues in walks, and finished the season with a .407 on-base percentage.  But wait; the plot thickens.  One of our assistant GMs, Jed Hoyer, is about to become the Padres’ GM.  (This leaves Ben Cherington as our only assistant GM.  The decision is likely to be announced in the next few days.  Bud Selig doesn’t want clubs making such major announcements during the World Series, so it’ll happen beforehand, especially since Hoyer will need to get his personnel in place and prepare for the GMs meeting starting on November 9.) So if one of them lands the job, our options become wide-open, and the road to the trade just got re-paved.  The important question here is who is on the block.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Mike Lowell and prospects; Youk would then move to third permanently while Gonzalez plays first.  But I don’t know if the Padres would bite.  I think it’s safe to say Youk won’t be going anywhere; he’s too good at the plate and in the field.  And I don’t think Pedroia even enters into this discussion.  So I think Lowell, prospects, and bench players are up for grabs.

Speaking of Pedroia, check this out.  During his MVP season, he swung at the first pitch fifteen percent of the time.  This past year, that stat was down to seven percent.  Furthermore, during his MVP season he hit .306 with eight doubles and two dingers on the first pitch.  This past year, he hit .167 with four hits, period.  And if you don’t consider his one-pitch at-bats, his numbers from the two season are almost exactly the same.  But there’s a trade-off.  With more patience came twenty-four more walks and a comparable on-base percentage despite the thirty-point drop in average.  And while we’re on the subject of examining the season via stats, the only Red Sox catcher since 1954 who’s had a better average in September than Victor Martinez is Carlton Fisk.  Just to give you an idea of how ridiculously awesome V-Mart is.  Youk has had the highest OPS in the American League since 2008.  (It’s .960, a full ten points higher than A-Rod’s.  I’m just sayin’.) Jacoby Ellsbury is one of only six since 1915 to bat over .300 with forty-five extra-base hits and seventy steals; the other five are Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, Willie Wilson, Tim Raines, and Kenny Lofton.  David Ortiz hit more home runs than anyone in the AL since June 6, but only six of those were hit with runners in scoring position and struggled immensely against lefties.  In three of his past four seasons, Jason Bay has experienced a slump starting sometime in June and ending sometime in July that lasts for about a month.

Saito cleared waivers on Monday, but mutual interest in his return has been expressed.  Why not? He finished the year with a 2.43 ERA, the eighth-lowest in the Majors for a reliever with forty-plus appearances.  Wakefield had surgery at Mass General on Wednesday to repair a herniated disk in his back.  The surgery was successful, he’ll begin rehab immediately, and expect him to be pitching before Spring Training.

In other news, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt fired his wife, Jamie, from her position as CEO of the organization.  Ouch.  Now she’s amassing an army of investors in an effort to possibly buy out her husband.  Ouch times two.  This could potentially ruin the team; when the organization’s top officials are preoccupied with marriage and ownership disputes, it’s harder to focus on free agency, harder to allocate funds to the right players, and therefore harder to be good.  Not that I’m complaining; Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez blew it this year and I’m looking forward to the Dodgers dropping down in the standings.

That’s a wrap for this week.  Not too much goes on until the stove gets hot, but this is when Theo gets his winter game plan together.  If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that he’ll be making some serious moves.  After a postseason finish like ours, that’s really the only thing you can do.

The Pats crushed the Titans last weekend.  Seriously.  The final score was 59-0.  It was ridiculous.  The Bruins, on the other hand, could do better.  We lost to Phoenix, shut out Dallas, lost a shootout to the Flyers, and won a shootout to the Senators.  We traded Chuck Kobasew to the Wild for right winger Craig Weller, still in the AHL; rights to forward Alex Fallstrom, a freshman at Harvard; and a second-round draft pick in 2011.  So it could be a while before we see a return on this move, but it freed cap space in preparation for next offseason, when Tuukka Rask, Blake Wheeler, and Marc Savard all hit the free agent market.  And make no mistake: Peter Chiarelli was sending a message.  If you underperform, you’re gone, because we can use the financial flexibility of a trade to make us more competitive than you’re making us right now.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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What can I say? Camden Yards is basically our home away from home.  If you’re the Red Sox and you have to go on the road, you want to start the trip at Camden Yards with some wins and some encouragement from Red Sox Nation.  It’s sad that the Birds have fallen from glory.  It used to be that the Yankees’ big rivalry was with Baltimore and not with us because Baltimore was actually really good.  But that fall from glory isn’t as sad as their performance in this day and age.  Bottom of the pile in the American League East, can’t buy a win, and don’t even have the support of their own fan base when we’re in town because Red Sox fans flood the stands.  It’s like being at Fenway.  Good for us, but quite sad for the Orioles, I’d say.

That first paragraph would be very out-of-place without a win.  Turns out there was a win.  3-1, thanks to Buchholz, Kotchman, Bay, and Ellsbury.  Buchholz had a terrific night, working six innings and relinquishing just one run on five hits with three walks and a strike out.  That one run was Luke Scott’s long ball with two out in the second.  It happens.  But it’ll be interesting to see Buchholz’s strikeout count progress in the long run.  Right now he doesn’t record many strikeouts per game, because he relies heavily on off-speeds, which usually induce outs not of the K variety.  But as he gets older, he may discover more power on his fastball, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll use that and incorporate it into his already remarkable mix of pitches.

Bard, Okajima, and Papelbon got a hold, a hold, and a save, respectively.  No incidents to report.  Finally.  Three no-hit innings that would’ve been perfect if Bard didn’t allow that walk.  So aside from a very gratifying sense of satisfaction, nothing to say about an impeccable performance like that.  I will say that it was a breath of fresh air after what we’ve seen from the ‘pen over the past few days.

Kotchman singled to left to score Bay in the second.  Bay hit an absolutely fantastic home run to lead off the fourth (ever notice how a lot of our home runs lately are lead-offs?).  He was all over it.  Perfect swing, perfect trajectory, perfect result.  Perfect.  And Ellsbury singled to left to score Reddick in the sixth.

Ellsbury and V-Mart both went two for five; Kotchman went three for four.  Ellsbury stole second.  Pedroia almost scored in the third on a hard-hit double by V-Mart, but he was out at the plate.  A valiant effort, though.  I mean, he was hustling, and that’s really what we love about Dustin Pedroia the dirt dog.  Youk was back in the lineup last night.  He went hitless but ran in to gather up a grounder and fire to first to get Melvin Mora out in the fourth, which was good because you need to be pretty healthy to make a play like that, so it appears that Youk will be fine.

Wakefield is officially scheduled to pitch Monday! I hope all goes well.  I know the rest of the rotation is rooting for him; they could use the extra day off.  The Angels’ coaches will be fined for bad deportment following Wednesday’s win, which they view as controversial.

So as usual, we beat the O’s.  Also as usual, Clay Buchholz got that win.  And for the third and final “as usual,” we discuss the Red Sox’s annual rookie hazing ritual, which involves the rookies dressing up in altogether hilarious costumes.  This year’s theme? “The Wizard of Oz.” Junichi Tazawa was Dorothy, Josh Reddick was Glinda, Dusty Brown was the Scarecrow, Daniel Bard was the Cowardly Lion, Michael Bowden was the Tin Man, and Jed Lowrie was the Wicked Witch of the West.  (This is actually Lowrie’s second time around because he hasn’t completed a full Major League season yet; last year he dressed up as a character from “High School Musical.”) All in all, it was a great day.  Tonight should be even better.  Something tells me a Lester-at-David-Hernandez matchup will be a very good game to watch.

In other news, we traded Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs for two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick in 2010 and a first-round pick in 2011.  Can’t say I didn’t see it coming, and to be honest with you, at this point I don’t think I’d want him in a Bruins uniform this season.  His head wouldn’t be in the right place after all that’s happened, and so it wouldn’t be fair to him or the team.  He didn’t even want to come back; he didn’t particularly like Claude Julien’s approach.  Besides, the Leafs gave him $27 million for five years.  For us to match that, we probably would’ve had to either send down or trade Michael Ryder and Andrew Ference.  So good luck to him in Toronto.  I know he’ll be great there.  He’d be great anywhere.  That’s the unfortunate part.  If only it had worked out, right? But that’s the downside of a salary cap.  Kessel was asking for a lot of money, so Peter Chiarelli had a choice: he could sign him, or he could sign all of our other young guys who were free agents, not to mention all of the guys who’ll be free agents after this season.  He chose the latter, which was wise I think, because having one Phil Kessel won’t do much for you if you don’t also have a David Krejci and a Matt Hunwick, for example, to support him.  But he’s got his own work to do.  He may be great in Toronto, but it’ll have to be without Milan Lucic creating space and without Marc Savard sending him pinpoint passes.

AP Photo

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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.


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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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