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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Garza’

After Lester’s shellacking, I said that we could all look forward to his next start, when he would surely be so dominant and so in control of everything that that egregious excuse of an outing would be a mere blip on the radar.  Lester most certainly delivered, confirming that in a do-or-die situation, he’s the one you want with the ball.  Or Buchholz.  But you know what I mean.

It was awesome.  Lester manhandled the Rays.  He had their number all the way through.  He tossed seven innings, gave up no earned runs on only two hits, walked five, and struck out ten.  He no-hit the Rays through the first three.  You can thank Scutaro and his throwing error for the unearned run.  Overall, the outing was spectacular and I will most definitely take it, but what was interesting was his walk total.  He threw 106 pitches, but his strike rate was just above fifty percent.  That’s pretty low.  But his pitch, strikeout, and hit count would all indicate efficiency.  So he had some bumps along the way, but he adapted perfectly and used what was working.  He worked his fastball up to ninety-four miles per hour and made it cut like none other.  His offspeeds weren’t there as much.  But you could tell from the first pitch he threw that he wasn’t about to let this one get away.  This was the first of a series of three with the Rays, and he wasn’t about to disappoint.  Adaptability is the mark of a great mature pitcher.  Lester has come a long way and the best part is that he’s still going.  Shellacking? What shellacking?

But last night was really a two-man show, the other being Lester’s batterymate.  V-Mart provided two-thirds of our offense.  He blasted a solo shot to left in the first and again in the seventh.  Both were rockets.  Both were deep.  Both were off Price.  Both were on fastballs up.  Thus, he continues to own Price specifically and southpaws generally.

V-Mart was as stellar behind the plate as he was at the plate.  In the sixth, Bartlett hit a base hit into center field.  Upton started from second and rounded third.  McDonald fired home.  And V-Mart positioned himself exactly right and was waiting for Upton with the ball.  Out at the plate.  That was huge.  It was McDonald’s seventh assist of the season.  Honestly, there was no way Upton was going to score.  He hesitated before he took off and wasn’t prepared for the wave home.  I don’t even know why they decided to send him home with nobody out.  That was an error.  Whatever.  More goodness for us.  It was a perfect play.  If you look up “plate-blocking” in the dictionary, you will see a freeze-frame of this play.

The blasts bookended Lowrie’s RBI single in the fourth.  And Lester’s characteristically strong outing was punctuated by equally strong performances by Bard in the eighth for the hold and Paps in the ninth for the save.  Paps gave us a scare, as unfortunately he occasionally does; the Rays had two on with two out.  But it was all good.  Jaso struck out looking, and we won, 3-1.

So the battery got it done.  Lester handled the Rays, and V-Mart handled both Lester and the Rays.  It was fantastic.  It was the absolute right way to start off this series.  With this win we are now four and a half games behind the Rays and Yanks.  That’s the closest we’ve been to first since July 7.  It doesn’t sound like much, but at least it’s something.  One step at a time.  We’ve won seven of our last ten, and we need to build on that.  It won’t be easy; Pedroia is probably done for the season because he’ll probably need surgery, which means that we’ll have to proceed with about half our starting lineup out for the season.  On the bright side, the bench has plenty of experience covering for him because he’s been out for so long.  We have already shown that w can win as we are.  I’m telling you, if there’s any team that could pull that off, it’s this one.  Nobody has a deeper or more experienced bench that’s been playing ball as good as starters out there than we do.  I wouldn’t count us out.  We have a long way to go, but we can get there.  Buchholz will take on Garza tonight.  This is going to be great.  Buchholz will so have it.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin
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I’m not entirely sure that last night’s loss was entirely the fault of our depleted lineup.  We faced David Price.  Facing David Price is no walk in the park, even when your lineup is healthy and even if the park were real.  (I really don’t like the Trop.  It has a roof and they play on turf.  It’s totally unnatural, both literally and figuratively.) So we can take heart in that fact.  What we can’t take heart in is the fact that it was still a loss, the last of three, meaning they yanked their plastic grass from right under our feet and swept us out.

But we didn’t go out without a fight.  Our first run scored in the sixth when Patterson came home on Papi’s double off the wall.  An inning later, Cameron hit a home run out to left field.  And finally, Garza came in for the ninth and it looked like we just might win after all.  Nava led off the ninth with a triple and scored on Cameron’s sac fly.  Then, with two outs, McDonald put together a massive at-bat that totaled eleven pitches before he scored Drew with a double to bring us within two.  The lineup showed promise, with Papi followed by Youk scheduled to come up.  Papi walked.  But Youk, with a 1-0 count, lined out to center field.  I hate to say it, but he’s really not helping his own cause in the Final Vote with all these unfortunate at-bats.

McDonald and Cameron both had stellar nights; McDonald went three for five, and Cameron went three for three.  Cash’s leave of absence showed in his passed ball.

The final score was 6-4.  Our bullpen did its best to keep us in it, but six runs is a decent amount of runs to be expected to overcome.  All six runs were given up by Wakefield.  Traditionally he’s been dominant against the Rays, but watching him last night, you’d never know it.  He gave up all six on four hits with six walks and three strikeouts in only five and two-thirds innings.  He threw 115 pitches.  He handled the first three innings, but then Longoria hit a solo shot in the fourth and everything more or less went downhill from there.  He went on to issue two free passes and a wild pitch.  He threw nine pitches in the third but twenty-seven pitches in the fourth.  His knuckleball was absolutely not as effective as it could have been; he only threw it for strikes fifty-three percent of the time, and when you’re talking about your dominant pitch by far, that’s not that great.  And when his knuckleball is less effective, his fastball is less effective because the effectiveness of his fastball is rooted in the fact that, when the knuckleball is on, you never see the fastball coming and therefore can’t hit it.  He only threw about three curveballs, but they were awful.  His strike zone was an absolute mess.  There was a random pocket in it to which he didn’t throw much of anything, and he threw all sorts of nonsense around the upper-left corner of the zone.  Both his horizontal movement and his vertical movement forced his pitches a little out there.  Tito described his movement as violent, which was completely true.  He did pick off Brignac to end the fourth, which was neat, because he doesn’t have too many successful pickoffs, being that it’s so easy to steal against him because he holds the ball for so long.  So that was good.  But on a night when we really needed his best stuff, he just didn’t have it.  He walked way too many.

The bullpen handled the rest of the game admirably, especially since he left so early.  Richardson allowed his inherited runner to score, but Ramirez, Paps, and Manuel were lights-out for the rest of the game.

But the bullpen’s solid performance and Garza’s weak one were too little, too late to salvage the contest.  Not that we haven’t come back from greater deficits in more significant situations than this, because I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I assure you that we most definitely have, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards last night.  What can I say? You lose, and then you move on.  Hopefully to a win.

We now bring our losing streak to four games, and we are four and a half games out of first place, two and a half behind the Rays.  We have an off day today and a three-game set with the Jays starting tomorrow, followed by the break.  Potentially, we could at least lock second place before the break, but the best we can do with first is be half a game out.  We were so close! Fortunately, there’s an entire second half of the season to be played.  But we’ll get there eventually.  First it’s Lester at Romero.  We need this one.  When you’re in the middle of a losing streak, you need every one you can get.

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That game was terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  Dice-K takes the rap for this one.  What else is new.

Did I say yesterday that a rematch was coming? We got a rematch, all right.  Dice-K and Garza were equally disgraceful.

Dice-K gave up five runs, four earned, on eight hits over five innings with four walks and four K’s.  Garza gave up four runs on seven hits over three innings with two walks and one K.  The sad thing here is that our pitching staff couldn’t hold the lead.

Okay.  One thing at a time.  Analysis now, frustration later.

Back to Dice-K.  He fired 113 pitches in those five innings.  Obviously his outing left much to be desired.  It was a microcosmic display of his usual inconsistency; he struggled in the beginning, was solid in the middle, and lost it at the end.  He threw thirty pitches in the first, managing somehow to escape with only one run, and his game low of eight in the second.  His cutter and fastball were quite good, but his other pitches were not good at all.  His release point was beautiful and strike zone was even; unfortunately, so was the area around the strike zone, which he peppered with balls.  His vertical movement was just right; his horizontal movement was way off the charts.  And now for the final blow.

The Rays had runners at first and second with nobody out in the sixth inning.  Bartlett tried to move them over with a sac bunt, which is fine with us because it means an out.  But guess what.  Dice-K didn’t record the out.  He couldn’t hear Cash and Beltre’s shouts of “One!” for first base and went for a play at third.  He didn’t even notice that Beltre wasn’t in position because he was also pursuing the bunted ball.  So the bag was completely uncovered, and once this finally dawned on Dice-K, he just stood there holding the ball, and the base were loaded.

I mean, really? Who does that? How do you not go to first for the out? Even if Beltre were in position, there’s no guarantee that the play would’ve been made.  The out at first is always a guarantee.  I have absolutely no idea what he was thinking, and I’m actually not sure I want to know.  I don’t even want to know if he was thinking.

Then the Rays tied it.  Obviously.  I am furious right now.  Dice-K got off with a no decision, but if you ask me he should’ve been saddled with the loss for that play alone.

Richardson recorded the first two outs of the sixth, and then Ramirez gave up the Rays’ winning run, a sac fly by who but Bartlett, and took the loss.  But not before another defensive snafu took place.  Pena hit into your average double play, but the shift left second uncovered because Scutaro and Hall both broke for the ball.  But I’m not going to blame Scutaro for leaving second on this one because, due to the shift, he had no reason to expect Hall to come up with it.  So that’s how you handle it: you cover all your bases, even if sometimes that means you leave one uncovered.

Bard took care of the last inning.

The final score was 6-5.  Honestly, in the beginning it looked like we were stealing the show.  Garza threw eighty-four pitches in his three innings.  We scored four runs in the third and one in the fourth.  It was awesome (while it lasted, of course).

Patterson hit his seventh career home run to right field to start the rally in the third.  He was working with a two-out, full-count breaking ball and his swing was perfect.  It’s almost like he needed that swing to remind himself he can do it, because after that his confidence, and that of the team, went through the roof.

That home run was the first of six straight batters reaching base.  Youk hit an RBI triple, and Beltre and Hall each hit RBI singles.  Youk did his best to redeem his teammates by gunning down Bartlett at the plate in the sixth.  Then Garza left, and Patterson welcomed Sonnanstine to the game with yet another long ball in the fourth, also to right.  Apparently, he likes balls down in the zone.  Who knew?

Then, in the top of the ninth, with two out and two strikes on him, Papi broke his bat hitting a single.  Youk worked the count full, and I couldn’t help thinking that if he put us on top in this game, he’d win that Final Vote for sure.  But he flied out to center, and that was the end of it.

We have the final verdict, and it’s not a good one: Buchholz is officially on the fifteen-day DL, retroactive to June 27, with a left hamstring strain.  Which means he’ll miss his first All-Star Game, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a real shame.  He really deserved this one.  He carried this starting rotation at a time when none of his colleagues even remembered how to throw strikes at all.  That’s a lot to ask of a young kid, but he stepped up, and that says a lot about him, both on and off the field.  Some better news on the same vein is that if Papi is asked to participate in the Home Run Derby, he’ll accept.  Finally.  I’d be psyched to watch that guy smack ball after ball out of the park.

Unfortunately, now back to bad news.  That loss put us back in third by half a game.  Obviously that’s not the end of the world; we’ve battled back from so much worse that theoretically this should seem excellent.  Besides, it’s only half a game; we could erase that deficit and be back in second place tonight.  Which brings me to the fact that Doubront is starting only his second Major League game instead of Buchholz.  I believe he can do it.  I believe he can win.  I also believe that we need this win, so let’s go get it.

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As Fourth of July celebrations go, that really wasn’t that great.  The pre-game ceremony was awesome, complete with flag, flyover, hats, and a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Sergeant Aaron Silton.  But the game itself definitely wasn’t that great.  Nope.  I’ve definitely seen better.  Way better.

We were primed for the sweep.  It seemed like we were going to do Boston proud and provide some  fireworks of our own.  That did not happen.  It did not happen for two reasons: Brian Matusz was good, and our pitchers were collectively essentially bad.  Between the two of them, we lost, 6-1.

John Lackey can only be held accountable for half the runs the Orioles scored.  He gave up three earned runs (you can thank Scutaro and his throwing error for the fourth unearned run), on eight hits over seven and a third.  They scored their first run on a wild pitch.  They scored their second run on a single that brought Jones around from first base.  He gave up three walks and struck out eight.  I hate to say it, but the Orioles basically did what we couldn’t do during last year’s postseason: they ground it out.  They didn’t fall victim to the first-pitch strike.  And that’s just sad, being that we were actually in the playoffs last year and you couldn’t pay the Orioles to get into the playoffs this year.  (Oh, wait.) So, yeah, this particular loss was kind of painful, I’d say.

Lackey threw 119 pitches, sixty-three percent of which were strikes.  He used five pitches: the four-seam, changeup, slider, curveball, and cutter.  All of them were absolutely outstanding except his cutter, not coincidentally the pitch he relied on most.  He threw literally almost no balls whatsoever below the zone; other than that, his zone was even.  The number of pitches he threw per inning was pretty consistent; he threw at most twenty-two in the fourth and at least eleven in the seventh, with a full range in between.  His movement was extreme, literally off the charts in some cases, which would partly explain the sub-par performance of his cutter.

Richardson finished up the eighth quite cleanly, but Atchison allowed two runs on three hits in the ninth.

The other problem, as I said, was the fact that the offense did almost absolutely nothing the whole day.  And the hazy weather didn’t help.  You could see Papi struggling with it.  He missed some pitches right down the middle that would’ve been right out of the park on a clear day.  I can’t stand it when that kind of stuff gets in the way, but that’s part of the package when you have a small park with weird angles like Fenway.  Anyway, Matusz is a lefty, but the lefties didn’t do well at all.  Going back to Papi, Matusz gave him a fastball in his first at-bat, but after that it was all breaking balls.  Drew didn’t do much better, and he made a fielding error.  The righties kind of got a little bit of a handle on him, but unfortunately nothing too serious.

In the fourth, Beltre smacked a double off the Monster for our only extra-base hit of the afternoon, and Drew came up with two runners in scoring position and only one out.  Drew struck out.  Hall then hit a fly right at Jones in center on a 3-0 count.  And that was as good an opportunity as we were going to get.  Youk knocked in our only run in the ninth with a solo shot over the Monster seats.  He got a fastball on a 3-1 count and did something with it.

And last but not least, we do have some good news.  After enduring a first month of the season that was abysmal at best, and after contributing to an ever-growing disabled list, we are eighty-one games in and tied for the Major League lead in wins, which says something about our guys that baseball fans the world over have heard.  As a result, we’re sending six to the All-Star Game! Beltre, Lester, and Buchholz will make the trip for the first time in their careers, while Papi will go for the sixth time, Pedroia for the third, and V-Mart for the fourth.  Unfortunately, Buchholz, Pedroia, and V-Mart are all unlikely to play in the game  because of their respective ailments and injuries.  That’s a real shame for Buchholz because he’ll miss his first All-Star Game and for Pedroia because it’ll be the second time he’s had to miss one.  I’m psyched for Papi, though; last season snapped his streak of five consecutive All-Star appearances, but he’s back in a big way this year.  Of course, I’m also psyched for Lester, who in my opinion was always an All-Star waiting to happen.  And to make it even more special, all six are reserves.  That may not seem like much, but the reserves are voted in by the players, which means a lot.  But the list isn’t final yet.  Today we have a chance to send a seventh, Youk, to the game for the third consecutive season via the final vote.  So, what are you waiting for?

Meanwhile, Lowell has been given permission to go home for a few days and take a break.  Interesting.

And now for the last order of business: the standings.  Unfortunately, the Yankees just had to win last night, so now our deficit is back to one and a half games.  Next stop, Tampa Bay for three.  Dice-K and Garza open the series with a rematch.  We need to make this one count.  Not just because we want to get ahead in the standings.  Also because I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we just don’t like losing to Tampa Bay.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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There’s the reminder of good pitching that we’ve been looking for! You can always count on Lester for one of those.  I mean, that wasn’t just good pitching.  That was great pitching.  That was outstanding pitching.  That was you-have-absolutely-no-chance pitching.

Dude went the distance for the second time this season and sixth time in his career.  That’s what I call taking one for the bullpen, although for him it really wasn’t that hard.  He had, as he is wont to have, the right stuff.  103 pitches in nine innings.  One run on five hits.  One run. Nine strikeouts.  His ERA is now down to 2.86.  Ridiculous.

His cut fastball was a thing of beauty.  He topped it out at ninety-three miles per hour.  His sinker, changeup, and curveball were excellent.  With the exception of the slider, of which he only threw one, the vast majority of all his pitches were thrown for strikes.  Really, he had a seventy-four percent strike rate for his pitch total.  That’s obscenely high.  Three-quarters of his pitches were thrown for strikes.  No wonder he was so efficient.

He threw a game-high of sixteen pitches in the sixth.  For a lot of pitchers in the Majors, that’s the least number of pitches they throw in a game.  He packed up the ninth in only six pitches.  Only six! That’s what I call taking care of business.

Beyond that, he pretty much had everything going.  The tight release point, the mix of pitches, the speed variation, the excellent movement.  He used every pitch in any count.  He was fearless.  You name it, he had it.  Including the win, of course.  He totally stole the show from Lincecum.  By the time Lester finished the ninth, Lincecum had been watching from the dugout for six innings.  You read right.  Tim Lincecum, the gem of the National League, the winner of the Cy Young Award, was removed after the third after throwing seventy-nine pitches.  If Lincecum thought he’d be able to go out there and hold his own opposite Lester, he had quite another thing coming.

The final score was 5-1, and we scored four of our runs against Lincecum alone.  Starting with Papi’s home run in the first.  I’ve heard it called a water shot, because essentially that’s what it was.  It was arguably the farthest, most powerful home run that David Ortiz has ever hit in his career.  It sailed over the infield, over the outfield, and right into McCovey Cove, the body of water behind the right field stands.  Two outs, full count, an eighty-six mile-per-hour split-fingered fastball up in the zone and he gave a kayaker a nice memnto.  It was the seventy-second time someone hit a ball in there in the history of AT&T Park, the twentieth time by a visitor.  It was Papi’s sixteenth long ball of the season, and man, was it long.  Right field is 365 feet, and then you have the stands, and then the water.  So yeah.  That was a long home run.

In the second, Lester helped his own cause by scoring V-Mart on a well-hit sac fly, followed by an RBI single by Scutaro.  Speaking of V-Mart, as if our injury list couldn’t possibly get any worse, guess who’s out for the count? He fractured his left thumb and left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Great.  Just great.  This just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it.  Well, then.  We’ll have to step it up even more, won’t we.

In the third, Youk singled, Drew walked, Hall singled in Youk, and Lincecum left.  And Beltre ended the run-scoring in the ninth the way Papi started it, with a long ball of his own, this one hit deep to left field.  This one barely cleared the fence, but like I said, in these expansive parks even that takes some power.  And he only came into the game for defense.  Nicely done.

So that’s what I was talking about.  If our pitching staff ramps up the run prevention and the lineup contributes, we can still win without the guys on the DL.  Although of course we wish them all a speedy recovery.  Like, a really speedy recovery.  Meanwhile, we can celebrate.  Not only did we win the game, but we won the series, we finished Interleague thirteen and five, and we snapped our tie with the Rays! Ladies and gentlemen, we now officially own second place and are two games out of first.  Tomorrow night, the fun begins; we take on the Rays and widen the gap in a two-game set at Fenway.  It’ll be Shields and Lackey followed by Dice-K and Garza.  We have a chance here to put ourselves out in front in the standings.  Let’s make the most of it.

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A quality start from John Lackey just in time to sweep the Rays.  Right on schedule.  And now we have five quality starts in a row.  Lackey completes the puzzle.  We’d been waiting for a start like that from him.  It was a little short and could’ve been better, but I’ll take it.  Believe me, I’ll take it.

Now is the time to revel in the fact that we just avenged our terrible April performance against the Rays with a sweep of our own.  It’s time someone brought them back down to Earth.  We were the right team for the job.  We owned.  We swept them in their house for the first time since 2002.  Thankfully, the Trop didn’t rear its ugly head in any defensive plays.

That was as decisive a third game as you’re ever going to get.  The final score was 11-3.  So when I say owned, I mean that as literally as possible.

Lackey picked up the win and improves to five and three.  He pitched one out beyond the sixth inning, but those were some solid six innings.  He gave up two runs on eight hits with four walks on a strikeout.  So no wonder he didn’t last as long as he could have. Yesterday, I said that Lester had a harmless location issue.  Today, I’m saying that Lackey had both a location and a hittableness issue, and those together aren’t so harmless.  He lucked out here that the Rays didn’t do much with anything he gave them – they left twelve on base – but it’s a habit he needs to lick.

He fired 115 pitches, to drive that point home.  His fastball stayed in the low nineties, and he actually threw his cutter faster.  He threw mostly cutters and curveballs.  His slider, fastball, and as usual his changeup all need work.  His lowest pitch count in an inning was eleven, but he needed sixty-two to finish the first three.  He varied his speeds nicely, but his location left much to be desired.  He got a little wild at times above and below the zone.  So last night wasn’t the end of his struggles.  He’s still having the same recurring problems that have resulted in mediocrity up to this point.  The difference last night was that the opposing team just didn’t do anything with it.

Why that was exactly is hard to say.  Sometimes a lineup just can’t read a pitcher that well.  Lackey came from the AL West and the Rays don’t have much postseason experience, so they really haven’t seen him much.  That could be one reason.  Another reason is the more obvious and more convincing one: even though Lackey didn’t fire off a Lester-like start, he still fired off a quality start; he may have been inefficient and his command may have been mediocre, but he still hit his spots at important times against important guys.  So even though this wasn’t necessarily what we’ve seen from him in the past as an Angel, it was still a good effort, and it was enough to stymie the Rays.

Okajima worked around a hit to finish off the seventh.  Ramirez handled the eighth.

Which brings me to tonight’s man of the hour: Adrian Beltre, ladies and gentlemen! He hits well against Garza, but I don’t think anyone was expecting a night quite like that.  He went four for five with two home runs, a triple, and six (count ‘em: six!) RBIs! All he needed was a double and he would’ve hit for the cycle.  (He beat out the throw to first in the sixth for his single.) That is huge.  That is an absolutely huge night.  Those six RBIs tie a career high that he achieved against the Rockies at Coors Field in 2000.  His offense was incredible.  He peppered all fields.  He exercised his power.  He made aggressive swings.  With runners on base.  It was absolutely fantastic.

He got the ball rolling with a towering and very powerful home run to left in the second on a fastball.  He followed that with the exact same thing in the third but on a breaking ball and with the important difference being that there just happened to be two men on at the time.  Papi got in on the action with a two-run shot to right in the fifth.  The spotlight returned to Beltre in the top of the ninth, when he smacked his triple off the right field wall to score two.  Hermida singled him home.  And McDonald added another two before Nelson surrendered a solo shot in the ninth, which would have been so much worse if it weren’t for the eleven runs we’d put together.  And that was the ballgame!

That was the last game of our road trip, during which we went five and one.  That’s our best six-game road trip since May 2007.  We only gave up seven runs in those six games, only three of which came from the Rays in this series.  That was also the last game of our particularly grueling thirteen-game schedule, during which we posted a record of nine and four.  We’re now only five and a half games out of first place.  We’re the proud owners of a five-game winning streak and, perhaps most significantly, we’re sixteen and seven since May 3.  That’s the best record in that time in the entire American League.  To repeat, we’re the best in the American League since the beginning of May.  That’s huge.

And the best part is that it really was a truly complete team effort.  Every night of those thirteen games featured someone else leading the team to victory.  You had Dice-K’s no-no bid.  You had Wake’s complete and total domination.  Last night, Adrian Beltre was without a doubt the man of the hour.  And we hope that Dice-K will assume that position tonight and build on his last incredible start to best the Royals.  It’s Bannister, not Greinke, which helps.

On behalf of Red Sox Nation, I’d like to express condolences for the death of former pitcher Jose Lima.  You’ll certainly be missed.

Boston Globe Staff/Yoon S. Byun

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I tried to be patient.  I tried to make justifications.  I tried to be fair and objective and understanding about the fact that the start to our season was sub-par.  I think the time for that kind of gamesmanship is passing.  We’re now four and seven and four games out of first.  The Yankees are tied with the Rays for first with the Jays a game and a half out.  Now that the standings look eerily normal, I think that now we’ve reached the point where we can start expressing dissatisfaction with the team’s overall performance.  Keeping in mind that the season is barely two weeks old, of course.

The suspended game was resolved quickly.  Within sixty-eight minutes, the Rays walked off with the W.  Burrell hit his first homer of the season, which also scored Longoria in the twelfth.  Those are the first two earned runs allowed by Delcarmen so far this year; he’ll take the loss.  Even worse was that we loaded the bases in the eleventh with no out and failed to deliver.  Drew was thrown out at the plate (I’m seeing a theme and I don’t like it), and Beltre grounded into a double play (again).  So that was the end of that.

As far as the game originally scheduled for yesterday, we lost that one too.  6-5, and it wasn’t pretty.  Buchholz allowed no earned runs on three hits with four walks and seven K’s over five innings.  Decent.  Except for the first, anyway.  The first pitch of the game was a ninety-six mile-per-hour fastball called for a strike, but he wouldn’t finish the inning until he pitched for twenty-six more minutes and threw forty-two more pitches.  He apparently lost concentration but quickly regained it; his next four innings were scoreless.  But guess what? Four unearned runs were plated on his watch.  The Rays picked up two (one earned) from Atchison; Ramirez turned in a solid two innings and that was the ballgame.

So, to review: that was four unearned runs.  Four.  And all of them were on Cameron’s fielding error.  Pena flied to center, but the ball bounced off Cameron’s glove.  Between his and Scutaro, I’m starting to wonder when our immaculate defense intends to show up.

We did our best to make it interesting.  Three home runs, all into the Monster seats.  Scutaro hit his first home run of the year and in a Boston uniform in the fifth.  Two innings later, he scored another run when Pedroia the Destroyah smashed one.  He now has more homers in April than any other Red Sox second baseman in club history.  Then Youk hit one of his own with V-Mart on, cutting the deficit to one.  (And I would like to point out that all of those runs were earned, thank you very much.) But alas, the win was not to be.  What a total waste of epic offense.  All those balls to the same area.  That’s one significant manifestation of the power in this lineup.

Now they’re targeting Ellsbury’s return for the middle of this week.  Congratulations to Jonathan Papelbon, who wasn’t on hand at Fenway for the continuation of Friday’s contest because he welcomed his second child.

So that’s it.  Two losses in one day, and we didn’t even have to get swept in a doubleheader to do it.  Unbelievable.  What we have here is the classic case of missed opportunities.  We put runners on bases and fail to plate them.  We need to start hitting with runners in scoring position.  It’s strange that we haven’t been because clearly we’re pretty homer-happy, and you would think that a lineup that can hit home runs would be perfectly capable of hitting line drives as well.  Apparently not.  This needs to change.  Garza at Lester this afternoon, and I would very much like to avoid getting swept.

The Bruins won, 5-3, and looked solid doing it.  Next game is tomorrow.  This series has the potential to turn out better than I thought.

Brad Mangin

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