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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Recchi’

You will see in short order that the title of this post couldn’t be dripping with more sarcasm, but you will also see eventually that somehow it’s strangely appropriate.  Yesterday’s game was nothing short of excruciating.  We won, but it was not easy.  That was one of the most difficult games we’ve played this year.  The whole monstrosity took five hours and seventeen minutes.  That means that if you were driving from Boston to New York for the series opener on Tuesday and were listening to a complete replay of yesterday’s game on the radio, you could make that drive within the span of that game and would still probably have to sit in the car once you got there to finish it.

Well, let’s start from the beginning.  I suggest you get comfortable.  It’s going to be a long one.

The story starts with Beckett.  Shoddy changeup, shoddy curveball, shoddy cutter.  Brilliant two-seam, brilliant four-seam.  Game-high twenty-three pitches in the sixth; the only other time he came close was twenty-one in the second.  So his efficiency was there.  He varied speeds, he attacked the zone.  And yet he was saddled with his sixth no-decision of the season.

Beckett was removed after giving up a walk and a single in the seventh.  All told, he pitched six innings, gave up three runs on four hits, walked three, and struck out four.  He fired 102 pitches, fifty-eight for strikes.  He made a wild pitch and hit a batter.  So technically it wasn’t his best night, but it was far from his worst.

We scored first.  With two out in the first, Gonzalez launched a changeup into the Monster.  The pitch stayed up, and his timing was perfect, even given the wind.

Starting in the bottom of the second, every inning was one-two-three and nobody scored until the fifth, when we added another run.  Crawford singled and scored on a single by Drew.  In the sixth, Beckett let the A’s tie the game.  After inducing a flyout to start it, he hit that batter, gave up a walk on four pitches, and made his wild pitch.  A subsequent single brought in two.

We put ourselves ahead the very next chance we got.  In the sixth, we scored three.  Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Pedroia.  Gonzalez struck out.  Pedroia scored on a double by Youk.  Papi grounded out.  And Youk scored on a single by Crawford.

Albers replaced Beckett in the seventh and allowed one of his inherited runners to score.  He was then replaced by Hottovy.

Both teams went down in order in the next two half-innings, thanks in his half to Bard.  In the eighth, we picked up two more; Gonzalez singled, Papi doubled and was replaced by Reddick as a pinch-runner, and both scored on a double by Crawford.

So at this point, we were the very proud owners of a four-run lead.  The rest of the game should have been a walk in the park (pun intended).  But could Paps let us half our easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy win? Not in the least.  Not even remotely in the least.  That ninth inning was an unmitigated disaster.

He gave up a single and a walk.  It took him seven pitches to notch the first out in the inning, an eventual strikeout.  Then of course Pedroia had to make a fielding error, his third of the season, which allowed Coco Crisp of all people to reach base and a run to score.  The ball had all the makings of the beginning of a routine double play that would end the game promptly with a win for us.  Pedroia had to move toward second base to corral the ball anyway.  But he didn’t.  Instead – and these are words that no member of Red Sox Nation will ever feel comfortable hearing – the ball went through his legs, and the game continued.  I think Paps’s reaction to that – crouching and covering his head in complete disbelief – pretty much says it all.

If Paps had rallied and ended the inning there, it wouldn’t have been his fault, and we still would have won.  But it didn’t.  He gave up a double that brought in another.  And that’s when Tek lost it.  He turned around and unleashed a verbal storm on home plate umpire Tony Randazzo, who in Tek’s eyes had been making questionable calls that inning that greatly affected the game.  It was the fifth ejection of his career and his first since 2009.  It was strange seeing him let loose like that.  He’s usually so composed.  But the way the game was going was bound to get to someone, and it wasn’t finished yet.

Salty came in to catch, and Paps allowed two more runs to score on a single that deflected at third.  And then Paps lost it.  Randazzo called a strike on Paps’s first pitch to Ryan Sweeney, but after receiving the ball, he sort of glared at him for a few seconds and looked away.  So Randazzo started to make his way toward the mound.  Salty made a move to keep Randazzo away and go to the mound to keep Paps stationary, but Paps would have none of it.  Randazzo started talking, and Paps said something to Salty and then just went right past him and got right up in Randazzo’s face.  Thankfully, Paps didn’t touch him.  Tito had to come out and get in the way.  Paps was ejected for the first time in his career.  It’s funny; you would think that, with his personality, he would have had more, but he knows how to keep his composure when he needs to.

Jenks came in after that and gave up a single but followed with back-to-back K’s.  He pitched the tenth and was replaced by Aceves in the eleventh.  Aceves gave up a walk, a double, and a sac fly.  So naturally it was do-or-die for us in the bottom of the inning.  Lowrie struck out swinging.  Drew struck out swinging.  Salty doubled.  And it was Ellsbury with the game-saving hit, a double that brought Salty home to preserve the tie at eight apiece.  Without that hit, we would have lost, plain and simple.

Aceves pitched a one-two-three twelfth and thirteenth.  He put two on base in the fourteenth.

Youk flied out to open the bottom of the inning.  Cameron did the same.  Then Crawford doubled, and Lowrie was intentionally walked.  And of all the batters in our entire lineup, the one who had to come up at that moment was JD Drew.  Two outs, bottom of the fourteenth, the game on the line, and you have stepping up to the plate a batter who had struck out four times in his previous four at-bats.  He watched a fastball go by.  Strike one.  And we’re all thinking of his called strikeout that ended the ALDS for us in 2008.  Fortunately, it was not to be.  His next pitch was a fastball right down the middle, and he hit a single! It was so simple! One single, one run, one win! 9-8! Cue the walkoff mob! After all that, it was absolutely glorious.

Youk went two for five with two doubles.  Gonzalez went three for five with his homer.  Ellsbury and Crawford both went four for a whopping seven.  And Drew, the unlikely man of the hour, went two for seven.  But it was enough.

I am convinced that, if there were any team that could eke out a win under those circumstances, it would have been us and nobody else.  You have to have matchless grit to play more than five hours of baseball, roll out the entire bullpen, lose two players through ejections, give up a lead, come back, and then finally win for good.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you separate the men from the dirt dogs.  Plain and simple.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Canucks, 3-2.  Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic forced sudden death, but we lost there.

Boston Globe Staff/Jonathan Wiggs

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No, literally.  We were one cut above the Angels.  It was a tie game going into the ninth, and then Jason Varitek, the captain, stepped up and delivered.  One mighty cut later and Drew with that speed of his was flying around third base to score the winning run in the top of the ninth.  Paps got his ninth save of the year, with a walk but without a hit this time.  So if it weren’t for that excellent swing by Tek to bury the ball in right center field, well, actually we probably still would’ve won, but he saved the bullpen and everyone else from a whole lot of extra work.  He finished two for four, so not a bad night for the captain.  That was his only RBI of the night, but I’ll take it.  Definitely no complaints here.

Bay and Ortiz each had RBIs, and Drew had an absolutely fantastic night, going two for three with two runs and an RBI, courtesy of himself in the second inning when he crushed a ball behind center field.  He crushed it.  He got good bat speed on it and there was no way it was staying inside the park.  I’m telling you, he’s just about there.  He’s right on the verge of getting hot.  And like I always say, when he does, watch out.  I remember how he played last year when Ortiz was out.  Man, I’d love to see him do that again.  His numbers went through the roof.  It was ridiculous.  So we know he’s capable, we know he’s got it in him somewhere, and it’s there.  We can see it’s there.  It’s only a matter of time.  Ellsbury continues to improve in the leadoff spot, going two for five with a run and a steal.  He’s batting .296 now, so just flirting with .300.  Within the next few days he’ll get it up there.

Youk was out again last night and will be for a bit of time; he’s been placed on the fifteen-day DL.  I think that’s best for the long term, and in the meantime I’m not worried.  We’ve shown that we do have the wherewithal to win without him if necessary.  And it certainly helps that our B team would be everyone else’s A team; we have some of the best backups in the league, and they’ve already got some playing time in so they’re already acclimated, which is perfect.  Pedroia left last night in the top of the fourth with a strained right groin but should be back tonight.

As far as the pitching was concerned, I was very glad to see that Masterson held his own.  I was a little concerned that last start would get to him a little bit because he’s a young guy, but he was good out there.  He should a lot of composure and maturity.  Six innings, two runs on five hits, four walks, and three strikeouts.  There’s the Justin Masterson we all know and love.  Delcarmen allowed a run, but then Ramirez came on and it was smooth sailing from there.  Ramirez got the win.  So Delcarmen and Ramirez now each have ERAs of 0.52 and Paps has an ERA of 1.20.  Ramon Ramirez has a 0.69 WHIP.  That means he allows less than one man on base every inning he pitches.  That’s unreal.  Delcarmen and Paps each have WHIPs above 1.00 right now, but they’ll bring those down.

So we have another late start tonight.  It’s going to be Wakefield at Matt Palmer.  Wakefield is 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.  I still can’t believe that.  Everytime I see that I do a small double-take.  It’s like he’s getting better with age.  It’s remarkable.  So hopefully he’ll keep that up and tomorrow we’ll be in a position to clean up.  I’d love to take this series from the Angels.  This could be the week we finally break into first and stay there.  And then we’d really be a cut above (corny, but true).

In other news, the Bruins forced a Game Seven last night with a 4-2 win over the Hurricanes.  Mark Recchi scored his fiftieth playoff goal.  I had to admit I was nervous going back to Carolina for that game, but if we can win there, we can win a Game Seven in Boston.  If there’s something we know how to do well, it’s win Game Sevens in Boston.  The battle happens tomorrow at 8:00PM.  Let’s win it.

Blogger

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What a night to be a Boston fan.  First the Bruins won to stave off elimination and live to play another day, and then the Red Sox break a tie late in the ballgame to come away with the win and take the series.  So we win the battle and the war.  Nice.  And for a while it looked like we were even going to have another Beckett-esque start.  Turns out it wasn’t quite as Beckett-esque as we’d hoped, but at this point I think we have to take what we can get.  Sad but true.  Beckett pitched six innings, gave up three runs on six hits and three walks, and struck out five.  Considering the way his starts have been going lately, that feels like a shutout to me.  Not bad.  Besides, for my Number One starter, I’ll take Beckett on his worst day over almost all other Number One starters on their best days, because you have to think long term, and that includes October, and come October there’s only one man you want out there starting a series for you, and that’s Josh Beckett.  No question about it.

Unfortunately, he got a no decision because that third run he allowed was the tying run.  Okajima pitched just under two perfect innings, Ramirez finished off the seventh, and Papelbon made the ninth interesting but ultimately got the save.  He gave up a walk and a hit, made a pickoff error, and has a steal in the background before he did any damage at all.  Then he proceeded to strike out Pena, Upton, and Crawford in order.  Why he couldn’t just start the inning that way, I don’t know.  But the bottom line is that Ramirez got the win and Paps got the save.  You might say it’s good for Paps to keep everyone on their toes, but the way this season’s going I’m on my toes enough, thank you.  Paps can go ahead and have a clean, straight save if he wants to.  But he’s still the best closer in the game.  That’s his eight save of the season.  Eight saves in eight save opportunities.  One hundred percent.  And usually that lasts for a long, long time.

We won the game, 4-3.  The Rays tied it in the sixth and we scored the winning run in the eighth, batted in by who but Jason Bay.  I think the man was born to hit in the clutch late.  A ballgame is never over, not even in the late innings, until Jason Bay’s had his final say.  And usually that amounts to him hitting for at least one bag, very commonly four bags.  Yesterday it was two bags.  Bay went two for four, and both of those hits were doubles, the latter of which coming in the eighth to plate David Ortiz and give us a permanent lead.  He also scored once.  So basically the man is awesome on all counts.  He might be in the mix for AL MVP.  Incidentally, that would be something, if Boston dominated the voting and we had three guys in the first three places.  Wow.  Anyway, Drew, Bailey, and Green batted in the other runs.  Green also had a good night, finishing two for three.

Lowell made an error.  Youk’s still out.  Dice-K pitched four shutout innings in Pawtucket.  Lopez was thankfully designated for assignment as we finally bought Daniel Bard’s contract from Pawtucket.  Let me tell you something about Daniel Bard: he’s considered our best relief prospect for a reason, and a very significant part of that reason is his fastball.  Trust me.  This is going to be fun.

So as I said we take two out of three against the Rays.  Good.  We’re gradually building up to a sweep.  We get the day off today and then it’s off to the west coast again for a series with the Angels.  First it’ll be Masterson at Weaaver.  I hope his struggles of late aren’t a permanent turn for the worse.  Either way, the sooner we’re done with the west coast, the better; this is actually our last trip out there, which is nice.  So let’s make it count.

In other news, the Bruins won.  To say they pulled out a win or that they hung on by the skin of their teeth would be one of the biggest understatements I’ve ever heard.  Because we absolutely dominated.  Even if you didn’t know the score, there is no question in your mind who won that hockey game.  The score, by the way, was 4-0.  It was Timmy Thomas’s first career playoff shutout.  Kessel scored two of those goals; would’ve been sweet if he’d had himself a hat trick but technically anything besides simply winning is icing on the cake.  Recchi also had himself a goal, and he’s the oldest Bruin ever to score in the playoffs.  Milan Lucic accounted for the fourth goal.  I have to say I was terrified when I saw Chara go down in the second period; Jussi Jokinen delivered a stick to his left shin and he stayed down for a few minutes.  And he’s not one to fool around.  He skated off on his own but didn’t start the third.  But with 19:12 left, he began his first shift of the period.  What a relief.  Then Scott Walker drew a seven-minute penalty.  No, that’s correct; a seven-minute penalty.  Two minutes for misconduct and five for fighting because Aaron Ward never dropped his gloves.  Unfortunately there were only two minutes left in the game at that point so we really couldn’t take full advantage of it, but still.  First of all it was a classless move, and second of all any penalty against the opposition lasting longer than two minutes is awesome.  Game Six on Tuesday at 7:00PM.  Let’s keep it going.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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