Posts Tagged ‘Mark Ellis’

That wasn’t a ballgame; that was a circus.  I know what a ballgame looks like, and last night wasn’t it.  It was so bad, it got to the point of being almost funny.  Except for the fact that, by the time we got around to playing real ball, it was the tenth inning, it was too little too late, and we lost.

We scored four runs in the first two innings.  In the first, Scutaro scored on Youk’s double for our first run.  Papi tried to do the same but was thrown out at the plate.

In the second, with one out, Hall singled into right field, and Gross fired the ball home to keep Cameron from scoring.  But Hall rounded first base by a mile, and Suzuki wanted to throw him out, but the throw ended up in right field because Barton and Ellis had no idea who should catch it.  So, in the end, Cameron scored his run, and Hall was safe at second base.  Then Davis tried diving for Scutaro’s bloop single, which ended up being ruled a double, and a stand-up at that, because he failed miserably; Hall scored on the play.  Then Scutaro came around on McDonald’s double.

We continued hammering away at Braden in the fifth, loading the bases with two out, but Hall grounded out.  So we loaded the basis in the sixth with only one out, but Papi struck out and Beltre grounded out.

Those were huge opportunities.  I think we lost the game in those innings.  We wouldn’t score another run last night, and in baseball you never know which run will be the winning run so you have to score when you can.  It turned out that the game was decided by only one run.  So if we made good on those bases-loaded situations, it’s not unreasonable to say that we would’ve won.

Meanwhile, the A’s had tied it up in the third with four runs, only three of which were earned.  (Cust had moved to third on Cash’s passed ball before scoring.) He gave up only three hits during his six innings of work, walking two, striking out five, and tossing 115 pitches.  His knuckleball was perfectly fine.  It was dancing, it was in the zone, for the most part.  He just got roughed up.  We’ve seen one-inning badness from him before.  His pitch counts per inning were mostly around twenty; his pitch count in that third inning was thirty-four.  It was a double, a walk, a hit-by-pich, a double, and a sac fly.  Some of that, namely the walk and the hit-by-pitch, are just part of the nature of the knuckleball; with a pitch so unpredictable and difficult to control, those things happen sometimes, and it’s a tribute to Wake’s skill that he only walked two.  So he definitely got his work in, even if our offense didn’t.

After that, the relief corps held the fort perfectly.  Needless to say, we’re going to need a quality start from Buchholz tonight because we used six relievers: Delcarmen, Okajima, Bard, Ramirez, Richardson, and Bowden.  The first three cruised.  In fact, after that third inning, Wake and the bullpen combined to retire the next fifteen batters they faced.  But now we come to the other part of the story.  The circus part.  The morbidly comical tenth inning part.

The tenth inning started with Ramirez, who was somehow called for a balk that put Barton in scoring position.  That was ridiculous.  He didn’t balk.  He just didn’t.  And to be honest with you I’m getting exasperated with all these bad calls.  Richardson got an out after that.  But then Bowden, who just got called up, was thrown into the mix with the game on the line and left a pitch up.  It was a four-seam.  The at-bat lasted for five pitches; the first three were four-seams, followed by a curveball, followed by the mistake.  Kouzmanoff jumped on it for a single, scoring Barton for a walkoff.  Ramirez ended up taking the loss.

And finally, last but not least, the ejections.  Crisp was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.  He swung and missed, he actually walked away from the plate, and then he actually walked all the way back and started it up.  John Farrell was ejected for arguing that Rosales didn’t check his swing and did indeed strike out.  How the umpire missed that, I have absolutely no idea.  His bat was so far in front of the plate, it looked like he was swinging for the fences.  Then Tito came out, and he wasn’t happy either.  Thankfully he didn’t get ejected, but still.  If he strikes out, the game is still tied.

In other news, the brass wants to upgrade the video screens in Fenway and bring int a new jumbotron.  As in, high definition.  The plans have to pass the Boston Landmarks Commission first, though.  I’m just thankful that our brass isn’t interested in something like the Dallas Cowboys monstrosity.  After all, we go to Fenway to watch a ballgame live, not to watch it on TV.

So that’s it.  That’s the whole story.  Every mistake that can be made in a ballgame – defensive, offensive, pitching, fielding, arguing – was indeed made.  All told, we left twelve on base, half of which were left in scoring position with two outs.  We had twice as many hits as Oakland did, but baseball games aren’t won by hits; they’re won by runs, which makes that our ninth loss in thirteen games.  Like I said, we need Buchholz to step up big tonight.  Actually, I’m pretty psyched.  We’re starting to get healthy.

AP Photo

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I guess we’ll start with the badness first.  We were two-hit in a complete game shutout by Brett Anderson.  Who knew.  Our struggles against Oakland apparently followed us home.  It was just painful to watch.  And John Smoltz did not help in the least.  His record is now 0 and 2.  He pitched six, giving up five runs on ten hits with a walk and three K’s.  Very lack-luster, but he remains optimistic as usual, only last time it was easier to believe because you had to account for first-start nerves and whatnot.  I guess he was battling nerves last night too while making his Fenway debut, but I think it’s safe to say at least at this point that he’s not living up to his name.  Bard and Ramirez were solid, and Saito gave up what appears to be his usual run in the ninth.  When all was said and done, we were looking at a final score of 6-0.

No run spread, because we didn’t score any.  Bay hit and stole second.  Green hit.  Tek and Baldelli walked.  Lugo made a throwing error; surprise, surprise.  In his big-league debut, Aaron Bates struck out twice.  It just wasn’t a great day.  Bay did have an absolutely spectacular leaping catch at the wall in the eighth, and in the ninth Tek caught Mark Ellis stealing.

With the exception of Nomar’s return.  Red Sox Nation stood as one in a massive standing ovation.  A massive standign ovation.  I’m telling you, that was a blast from the past.  It was strange to see him do his batting ritual in an A’s uniform but good to welcome him back.  You started having all these memories of him lighting up pitchers, his work ethic, his solid defense, the security he brought to the shortstop position which contrasted sharply with the shortstops we had basically until Jed Lowrie came along.  We went from Renteria to Gonzalez to Lugo, whom we signed to a long-term contract hoping he’d be the answer.  Of course that never panned out.  But it wasn’t just that.  Nomar was an icon.  He was a unanimous Rookie of the Year and a perennial All-Star.  He was the closest this generation came to seeing a modern legend.  He was really that good.  He played 966 games for us, batting .323 with 1,281 hits, 690 RBIs, and 178 home runs.

Of course hindsight is twenty-twenty and it’s easy to forget the ugliness about his leaving.  And believe me, there was ugliness.  We can have selective memories if we want to, but at the end of the day we have  to recall why he’s no longer wearing Boston letters.  He says he wants to finish his career in Boston.  He says that when he put on that uniform about fifteen years ago, he wanted to start and end his career in it.  And we all know his career took a sour turn since he left.  He’s played for three different teams, just now coming back to the American League.  In 2006, he won the Comeback Player of the Year award with the Dogers, batting .303 with twenty home runs and ninety-three RBIs.  Aside from that, he’s batted .279 with eight home runs and thirty-nine RBIs while averaging only seventy-nine games a year.  he’s thirty-five years old and was just diagnosed with a chronic calf injury.  And lately he spends more and more time on the DL.  So between that and the terms on which he left, it’s unclear whether it would be good for him or the team if he came back.  After all, one of the reasons why he left was because he was no longer good for the team.  It’s a little bit like the Manny Ramirez trade: you remember the good times, but you’re glad he’s gone.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t think about what could’ve been had it been possible for him to stay.  He was no Ted Williams, because nobody will ever be Ted Williams except Ted Williams, but he reminded you of that type of player.  A modern legend.  Almost.  He did go two for four with an RBI, but so did everybody in the A’s lineup last night.  He was out at first after his first at-bat.  He’s a first baseman now, but last night he DHed.  Doesn’t always play in the field these days.  In fact, doesn’t always play, period.

Anyway, moving forward.  Josh Beckett will take on Dana Eveland tonight.  Dana Eveland is one and two with a 7.40 ERA.  Josh Beckett is…Josh Beckett.  Luckily, we were able to keep our one-game lead over the Yanks intact, but we need to increase it.  The final games before the All-Star break is a perfect time to do it.  Gain ground at the Yankees’ expense and solidify our supremacy in the American League.  And maybe take down the Dodgers in our spare time.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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