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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Joyce’

Well, that was exhausting.  That game was about half an hour short of lasting for a quarter of a whole day.  It was ridiculous.  There was good, but there was a whole lot of bad and plenty of ugly.

We had ourselves a huge first.  Ellsbury singled, Victorino doubled, and Pedroia singled them both in.  Papi walked, Pedroia scored on a double by Nava, and Papi and Nava both scored on a single by Carp.  Salty doubled, Carp scored on a single by Middlebrooks, Drew popped out, and Ellsbury grounded into a double play.

Lackey made two big mistakes in the bottom of the first and gave up two solo shots as a result.  Somehow it didn’t really make much of a dent.  Unfortunately, the two runs he allowed over the course of the third and fourth did.  He gave up three consecutive singles in the third, secured the inning’s first out, and then induced a force out that scored only one run.  He gave up two consecutive singles in the fourth, secured the inning’s first out, and then allowed another single that scored a run.

Two groundouts, a hit batsman, and a double into the sixth, Lackey was lifted in favor of Breslow.  But not before he hit Matt Joyce in the back.  Joyce tried to charge the mound, but Salty kept him at bay.  Meanwhile, both benches cleared, but there were no brawls or ejections, just warnings.

Breslow ended the sixth.  Miller got the first two outs of the seventh and allowed a solo shot.  Tazawa got the inning’s final out.  Unfortunately, he threw the game into extras when he issued a wild pitch in the eighth.  He had allowed a double, and it turned into a run as a result.  Mortensen got through the ninth, but we still had extras to contend with.

Pedroia led off the tenth with a walk, moved to second on a groundout by Papi, and stole third while Nava was busy working another walk.  Carp struck out, Nava moved to second on defensive indifference, and Pedroia and Nava both scored on a single by Salty.

It was small ball, and yet it was huge.  That was the game right there.  Lackey had a bad night, and the relief corps had an even worse night.  And as many runs as we scored in the first inning alone, it wasn’t enough.  We needed more.  I regret that we had to go into extras to get it.  But as long as we won, we should ultimately feel good about it.

Bailey gave up a solo shot in the tenth, but our two runs could handle it.  Two walks and one single later, he had the bases loaded with nobody out.  But then he walked in a run.  It is the worst possible way for a pitcher to allow a run because it is completely preventable and based solely on the pitcher just being bad.  And just like that, the game was tied back up at eight.

Uehara pitched the eleventh and twelfth.  Morales pitched the thirteenth and the fourteenth.

Finally, in the fourteenth inning, the game was won.  By us! Victorino singled, moved to second on a flyout by Pedroia, and scored on a single by Nava.  Papi, meanwhile, had walked intentionally; Iglesias came in to pinch-run and scored on a single by Salty.

The game lasted five hours and twenty-four minutes.  We sent out eight pitchers, two of whom blew saves (Tazawa and Bailey); Morales got the win.  It was exhausting, and without the W at the end of all that baseball, especially since we had a six-zip lead before the Rays sent their first batter to the plate, it would have undoubtedly been devastating.  But that doesn’t change the fact that we needed fourteen innings to redo something we’d already done in the first due to bad pitching.  A lineup that puts together that many runs should not need to play that much baseball just to win by two.

USA Today Sports Staff/Kim Klement
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That was just crushing.  It had all the markings of a devastating loss: good performances from everyone that weren’t enough, a lead we maintained for a good while before dropping it, a walkoff in extras, and an outcome that was the direct result not from any one major mistake but from several small and insignificant mistakes that on any other day would have been small and insignificant.  That’s pretty much the best recipe for a real disappointment that you’re ever going to get.  And if you needed a picture to go with that recipe, you’d make a freeze frame of Johnson’s home run to go with it.

Pitching-wise, Buchholz delivered.  As far as the Rays were concerned, he was still zoned.  The Rays had absolutely nothing against him.  He tossed seven frames plus one out, gave up one earned run on four hits, walked two, and struck out five.  He allowed a solo shot to Upton in the eighth that chased him, but even that wasn’t technically his fault.  Buchholz threw a curveball, a pitch Upton hadn’t seen all night.  It’s not like we’re talking fastball down the middle.  Buchholz threw 110 pitches, sixty-seven for strikes.  He worked his fastball up to ninety-four miles per hour.  His curveball was real sharp.  But his changeup and slider weren’t that great.  Nevertheless, he pitched very well, no-hitting the Rays into the fourth and aggressively challenging them.  In fact, he has Kalish to thank for that because Kalish made one of those plays you associate with the preservation of a no-hitter.  With a runner on first and one out, Upton hit what looked like an RBI triple but ended up being a fly ball when Kalish made an absolutely phenomenal diving catch, complete with somersault.  That is making highlight reels for the next year.  That was incredible.

The real problem was the unearned run he gave up in the seventh.  Buchholz attempted a pickoff, but the throw somehow ended up in our bullpen, allowing Pena to move from first to third.  Pena wasn’t even a threat to steal there.  And as if the situation couldn’t possibly have gotten any worse, Joyce followed that with a foul ball to right.  Drew lit out for the Rays’ bullpen to “catch” it.  He said after the game that he had absolutely no intention whatsoever of catching it; he was just going to let it drop, which is what you’re supposed to do with a runner ninety feet away with less than two outs and the game on the line, because if the ball is caught, it becomes a sac fly and a run scores.  So according to Drew, he was fully committed to not catching that ball.  And it seemed like the ball itself was going to help him out because it was shaping up to be a very difficult play, had he wanted to make it.  But somehow he ended up in position, casually stuck out his glove, and the ball landed in it.  And after he caught it, he was in one of the worst possible throwing positions in which you can find yourself in the outfield, and that’s how we were tied at one.  Seriously, I don’t really know what to make of it.  It was all very bizarre.  I mean, why would you purposefully catch that? It kind of looked like he didn’t expect to find the ball in his glove, but we have no way to know for sure.  But we do know that it ended Buchholz’s twenty-six-inning shutout streak.

Meanwhile, Beltre had hit a sac fly in the fourth to give Buchholz a one-run lead.  V-Mart’s solo shot in the eighth had given him another one-run lead.  That home run was huge, and I was exceedingly pleased to hear Red Sox Nation, Florida Chapter giving some hearty vocal representation.  It’s awesome to flood parks on the road.  Feels like home.  It was a fastball at the letters that he hooked out.  It was a very solid swing.  So he can do it all from both sides of the plate.

Doubront and Bard pitched perfectly.  It was Atchison who allowed the final blow.  To be completely honest with you, when he walked on the mound, I didn’t have a good feeling about it at all.  Johnson hit a home run on a fastball down the middle that was supposed to be inside.  And we had to watch something we all despise: a walkoff celebration at our expense against a division rival.  It was terrible.  I started having flashbacks of September 2008 when we were at home in a similar but better situation, fighting for October with the game on the line, and it was Johnson who took Paps deep for a walkoff.  And it’s just as horrible now, in fact probably more so, than it was then.  The final score was 3-2, most definitely not in our favor.

This win would have been tremendous.  We would have shortened our deficit to three and a half games.  But no.  Now we’re back to five and a half games.  It’s like our win on Friday didn’t even happen.  Lackey gets the ball tonight and we must win.  That is non-negotiable.  We don’t have a choice.  We’re fighting a war to get into the playoffs, and every game is like a battle.  We can’t afford to lose this battle because we don’t want to lose the war.  So let’s not lose.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Believe it or not, Tuesday night’s contest and last night’s contest were pretty similar.  Both featured really solid outings by the starters.  Both featured bullpen failures.  But Tuesday night featured an explosive offense that scored twice as many runs as we did last night.  That offense was what covered the bullpen during its failure.  Last night, we didn’t have those extra runs.  And we lost.  Of all the teams to lose to, right now this one is one of the two absolute worst.  (I’ll let you guess which one is the other.)

Dice-K left after six, during which he gave up three runs on four hits with four walks and seven K’s.  That’s pretty decent.  Inefficient, because he threw 111 pitches in those six innings and we personally know pitchers who can get through an entire game with that amount, but decent.  His best pitches were his fastball, slider, and curveball.  He threw twenty-nine pitches in a single inning twice, including the first, and went from there all the way down to needing only seven in the third.  That glimmer of brilliance wouldn’t last; the one bad inning reared its ugly head yet again as he gave up three runs in the fourth.  He had a pretty even strike zone, and the movement on his pitches was good, and his variation of speeds was good, and his release point was good, but when you don’t throw as many strikes and end up behind in the count and give up some hits and get into some jams, it adds up.

So, yes, it was a decent start.  But I’ll only give you decent, because perhaps had he stayed in for another inning or two, the bullpen’s damage would have been limited, and maybe, just maybe, we’d be celebrating right now instead of parsing this loss.

The badness didn’t start until the eighth inning; Atchison took care of the seventh nicely.  But then we gave up six runs.  Delcarmen gave up five on four hits and a walk without recording an out.  Ramirez was charged with only one run but allowed both of his inherited runners to score on a long ball.  Thus, the final score was 9-4.

It was horribly disgusting.  Our winning streak at home was snapped.  Delcarmen looked like had absolutely no idea how to throw an off-speed pitch.  Everything he delivered hung out over the plate.  He wasn’t extending his release because his forearm is stiff.  And in light of that, I question why he was given the ball in the first place.  If it’s not serious enough to warrant a stint on the DL, that’s fine, but don’t let him lose us a ballgame, especially one that was the most important of the season to date.

All in all, the ‘pen has given up ten runs in the past two games.  Pathetic.

Our never-say-die-ness came to the forefront in the eighth.  Until the eighth, we’d only posted one run, which Patterson scored on Papi’s first double of the night.  It was again a Papi double in the eighth, this one off the Monster, that scored both Patterson and Scutaro.  Then, Papi himself scored on a sac fly by Beltre.  So it was obviously a good night for Papi, who finished two for three and who’s collected seven RBIs in his last three games and three in his last two.  Scutaro finished the night two for five, Patterson scored two runs in his debut (Nava got the day off), and Tek caught Joyce stealing, but other than that, nobody else really did much.  Except Youk, who made a fielding error.  Wait; what?

Thankfully, the Yankees also lost, so we’re one game out of first.  That’s a huge sigh of relief.  I want first place locked by the All-Star break.  We have a day off today, followed by three games at home against Baltimore, and then we have a three-game set at Tampa Bay with another off-day.  Our three games with Toronto then lead us into the break.  Speaking of the All-Star Game, voting ends tonight at midnight, and I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in the showing our guys are making in the voting.  I mean, come on.  We’re Red Sox Nation, the best fans in the world.  If we don’t vote our own guys in, who will? Vote.  Vote, vote, vote.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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All of Dice-K’s pitches were off.  We can ask ourselves, was it the World Baseball Classic, was it not the World Baseball Classic? Only time will tell.  But one thing’s for sure: last season he was perpetually on.  It’s a commonly known fact that a player’s first year in Boston is not necessarily his best, and last year Dice-K resolved many of the issues he had in 2007.  The last thing we need now is for new issues to crop up and give him trouble.  Yesterday it was the long ball that did him in; four runs on nine hits, three of them homers, in just over five innings pitched.  Joyce, Longoria, and Riggans.  Four runs on three mistakes.  Dice-K will take the loss.

The bullpen did okay yesterday.  Delcarmen, Ramirez, and Masterson all did fine; all still have ERAs of 0.00.  Hideki Okajima is another story.  He posted another shaky outing.  He got out of it, but not before allowing a hit and two walks.  Something’s up, and it’s not just his ERA.  I know, I know, it’s only the second game, but really? Is he ever coming around? Because if he isn’t, I’d like to know sooner rather than later.

Offense.  There’s a bit of an interesting story.  This game had walk-off home run written all over it.  After Papi walked, that responsibility fell to Youkilis who, sadly, did not deliver.  He did, however, have a very good day at the plate; three for four with a walk and two runs.  The only multi-hit performance in the lineup.  An RBI for Bay, coming on a triple in the sixth inning.  You don’t see triples too often, especially not “true triples,” the ones you don’t have to leg out.  He got to third easily.  Too bad we stranded him.  Also an RBI for Lowell, who robbed Iwamura of extra bases in the eighth by making a spectacular catch.  He dove to his left and picked the ball out of thin air.  That was a play he would never have been able to make before the surgery, and with every game he’s becoming more and more comfortable in the field.  Speaking of spectacular catches, in the ninth Jacoby Ellsbury kept us in the game by hauling in a well-hit ball by Gabe Kapler with the bases loaded.  If it falls it’s three runs for sure.  And sometimes a play like that is worth the RBIs Ellsbury could’ve or should’ve batted in himself.  And who comes to the plate in the ninth but Jason Varitek, who proceeds to hit a long ball of his own to bring us within one! Two home runs for the captain, and it’s only our first series.  I’m telling you, comeback year.  But, alas, at the end of the day we lost, 4-3, dropping our opening series for the first time since 1988.

But I did notice a crack in the Rays’ pitching staff: Troy Percival.  He pitched the ninth and gave up the homer to Tek and a walk to Papi.  If Longoria hadn’t taken a base hit away from Pedroia, we probably would’ve won.  So this wasn’t exactly his best outing.  Reports have it that, since last year, his endurance is down, and it’s a big question for the Rays whether he’ll be able to fill the closer’s role, or any role, effectively for an entire season.  And when he starts to fall, we’ll be ready.

It’ll be Wakefield at Weaver in the late start tonight, something I’m not looking forward to if we continue to play like we did in our last two games.  On the bright side, this is one of only two road trips to the West Coast this year, so we’ll be done with those by May.

In other news, the Bruins edged the Habs in overtime, 5-4.  Only the Sabres and Islanders left.

XML Aficionado

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