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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Thornton’

Congratulations, Red Sox Nation! We are officially fans of 2013’s best American League baseball team.  Oakland lost, so now our enjoyment of home field advantage is very much perpetuated.  Oh, it’s great.  It’s just so insanely great.

Lester started out strong but ended up having a mediocre night.  It was a real grind.  Ultimately, he gave up four runs on nine hits in five innings while walking two and striking out four.  On average, that’s about two baserunners per inning, which also means a lot of pitches: ninety-seven, to be exact, which is about the number of pitches we usually expected him to need to get through at least two more innings.

With two out in the second, he gave up a run thanks to a single-double combination.  He gave up a solo shot on his very first pitch of the third, a sinker gone wrong.  Then he gave up four singles in the fifth, three of which were consecutive, to bring in his final two runs.

So yeah, it was a struggle.  There are nights when it comes easily, and there are nights when it just doesn’t.  It could have been much worse.  At least he kept us in the game.

We didn’t score in the first three innings, but we scored in each of the next four.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Ross in the fourth.  Drew doubled and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fifth.  Nava singled and scored on a double by Ross in the sixth.  And Drew and Pedroia led off the seventh with back-to-back singles, and after Napoli popped out, each scored on a single, the first by Gomes and the second by Nava with a little help from a fielding error, even Gomes was thrown out at third.

Thornton went in for the sixth, and Tazawa went in for the seventh.  Two singles in to the eighth, Morales relieved him.  Unfortunately, after he registered the first out of the inning, he gave up a two-run double that put Baltimore on top.  And that was when Workman came in.  But we failed to score in the eighth and ninth, so we ended up losing, 6-5.

But let’s not forget about that home field advantage.  Now throughout Soxtober.  Loss aside, that’s a pretty big consolation prize.  I’m going to enjoy this.

AP Photo
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It is what it is.  Sometimes pitchers don’t get the run support they need, and sometimes they do.  Sometimes hitters don’t get the pitching support they need, and sometimes they do.  It’s the nature of the game.  I want to keep our momentum going right into Soxtober, but I guess it really is true when they say you can’t actually win them all.

Buchholz looked solid as he cruised through the first third of the game, facing the minimum in each of the first three innings.  But we lost the game because he got into trouble in the fourth.  He gave up a single, and after inducing a lineout, he gave up another single followed by an RBI double, a single, an RBI single, and an RBI throwing error, if you could call it that, as Buchholz tried to pick off the runner.

Despite giving up a single and a walk in the fifth, he escaped unscathed.  He gave up a walk in the sixth and that was it.  All in all, it was a great start when he wasn’t busy giving up all kinds of runs in many different ways.

Britton came on for the seventh.  Dempster actually came out for the eighth and almost had an eventful inning but ultimately pulled it together.  Thornton came on for the ninth and made the situation worse by giving up another run on a walk-double combination.

Unfortunately, this was just one of those nights where we couldn’t come up with enough run support.  We had scoring opportunities here and there, but we didn’t score our first run until the sixth, and then we didn’t score enough.

Drew singled to lead off the sixth and scored on a single by Gomes.  With one out in the seventh, Bogaerts reached on a fielding error, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout by Ross.

I was hoping that the two ones on the scoreboard would turn into three ones, and then the game would be tied, but it didn’t happen.  We lost, 4-2.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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We started our series against the Yankees on Friday, and we’ve won it.  That is, the least way we can describe it is having won it.  Because really, we swept it.  It was just one of the most beautiful things to see.  Sweeping the Yankees? Yes, please.

Friday’s game was a game of bookends, so to speak.  We won, 8-4, because we scored four runs in the first and four runs in the eighth and no runs in between.  In the first, Pedroia singled, Victorino flied out, Papi doubled, Pedroia scored on a groundout by Carp, Papi scored on a single by Nava, Salty walked, and Nava and Salty both scored on a double by Drew.  But the eighth, I have to say, was my favorite.  Victorino singled, Papi got hit, and Gomes walked to load the bases.  Nava struck out.  And then it was Salty’s turn.  He took a changeup for a strike.  And then he got a fastball that looked really good.  For him.  Not for the pitcher.  The pitcher didn’t stand a chance.  Salty uncorked a massive swing on that ball and sent it beyond the right field fence for a grand slam.  It was epic.  And it came against the Yankees.  That’s about as good as it gets.

Meanwhile, Lackey gave up four runs on seven hits in six and one-third innings.  He gave up no walks and struck out three.  Lackey gave up a solo shot to lead off the third.  Then he gave up one run on a double-sac fly combination in the sixth.  He had the bases loaded with two out in the seventh thanks to two singles and a walk, and he gave up a two-run double that obviously could have been much worse.  Workman got the last out of the seventh, Tazawa pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.

Saturday’s win was more modest, but it was a win nonetheless.  5-1 is a pretty satisfying score.  And Lester was, without a doubt, the star of the show.  He pitched a full eight innings of one-run ball and gave up only three hits and two walks while striking out five.  He threw 116 pitches, eighty of which were strikes.  He went one-two-three in his first three innings and gave up his only run in the fourth because he gave up a triple to lead it off, and it turned into a run on a groundout.  So even in the inning during which the one blemish of his performance occurred, he still managed to derive an out from it.  He ended up facing five in the fourth due to a walk, and he faced four in the fifth and sixth.  He went one-two-three in the seventh and issued another walk in the eighth.  Yeah.  Master.  Morales pitched the ninth.

So it was really, really nice that we gave him run support.  Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a groundout by Middlebrooks.  Pedroia led off the third with a single and scored on a double by Papi, who scored on a single by Gomes.  Ross led off the fourth with a single and scored on a single by Victorino.  And Napoli led off the fifth with a walk and scored on a sac fly by Nava.  Clearly the leadoff was very good for us.

And last but not least, we won yesterday by a score of 9-2.  In a way, it was a fitting way to contribute to the roast of Mariano Rivera, which, if I may say so, was hilarious and seemed to be taken in the correct stride by all.  The Yanks probably thought they had Buchholz when they were the first to score.  It was only one run in the first, but scoring in the first inning can do a lot to boost your confidence.  But it was one of those earned unearned runs; Buchholz issued a walk and then himself made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, and then the runner scored on a groundout.  So it was Buchholz who made his own fielding error, so it’s kind of funny to call that unearned.  All told, he gave up just the one run on two hits in six innings, walking four and striking out three.  Thornton pitched the seventh, Breslow pitched the eighth, and Webster pitched the ninth, during which he gave up a run thanks to a walk-single combination that, in the grand scheme of things, really didn’t matter at all.

Fortunately, we too scored in the first inning.  But we scored more.  Pedroia grounded out, and then Nava doubled and scored on a single by Papi, who moved to second on a wild pitch.  And then Napoli lit up the place with a two-run shot all the way to deep, deep center field.  And we added insurance in one of the coolest ways possible in the fourth.  Napoli walked to lead off but was out in a force by Salty.  Salty moved to second on a passed ball and third on a groundout by Drew, and then Bogaerts walked.  So we had runners at the corners.  And then it was Bradley’s turn to bat.  And suddenly, cool as ice, Salty just slides on into home.  Yes.  That’s right.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia stole home.  It was epically awesome.  It was so polished and clean, like he does it all the time.  I’m telling you, he timed it perfectly, and there was nothing the Yanks could do about it.  It was absolutely perfect.  He nailed it right on.  Wow.  It was awesome.  And we weren’t even done.  In the fifth, after Pedroia walked, Nava doubled, and Papi walked intentionally, Carp got hit by a pitch, and with nowhere to go, Pedroia just had to score.  In the sixth, Bogaerts doubled and Pedroia walked, and each scored on a single, the first by Nava and the second by Papi.  In the seventh, Bogaerts singled, Bradley got hit, and both scored on a single by Pedroia.

In other news, the Pats are really starting the regular season off right, having secured another win, albeit a close one, against the Jets, 13-10.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Isn’t it sad when that one reliever ruins it for the rest of us? We were behind, then we fought our way back, then we were behind again.  It’s always awful to lose, but to lose after you’ve given yourself a chance is even worse.

Peavy was solid yet again! He gave up three runs.  He went one-two-three in the first, and then he gave up his first run in the second on a triple-single combination.  In the third, there was a walk-double combination.  And then there was a solo shot in the fourth that could have scored two runs had Salty not caught a runner stealing second that Peavy had put on base initially with a walk.  Despite two consecutive walks to lead off the fifth, he escaped that inning unscathed.

So we had to catch up.  And catch up we did.  Salty homered with one out in the fourth on the sixth pitch of his at-bat, and Papi led off the sixth with a homer on the third pitch of his at-bat.  Then Napoli grounded out, Salty walked, and the Rays made a pitching change.  After Gomes struck out, Salty stole second and scored on a double by Drew to tie it up.

Britton came on for the seventh.  He got the first out of the eighth, and then De La Rosa came on and ruined it.  He gave up a double before securing the inning’s second out.  And that double turned into a run on another double.  And then Thornton relieved him.  We had an opportunity we didn’t take in the ninth, and we lost, 4-3.

EPA Photo

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This was an epic week.  It was an epic, epic week.

Last Saturday, we bested the Other Sox in a big way.  Peavy pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four; Breslow pitched the eighth, and Britton pitched the ninth.  Those two runs were the result of a single-force out combination in the third and a single-single combination in the fourth.  But we scored more.  In the first, Ellsbury singled and scored on a single by Napoli.  Napoli and Gomes hit back-to-back doubles in the third.  And two singles, a double, two groundouts, and another single yielded another three runs in the fourth.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Bogaerts in the fifth.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the sixth, and a wild pitch brought in the game’s last run for a final score of 7-2.

We managed to walk away with a win last Sunday as well.  Doubront gave up four runs on seven hits in less than four innings of work, and the rest of the game was pitched by Workman, who got the win, as well as Morales, Tazawa, Breslow, and Uehara, who got the save.  Workman and Breslow each allowed one run of their own, but fortunately, yet again we scored more.  Carp singled, Salty walked, and both scored on a single by Ellsbury in the second; Victorino and Pedroia both walked, and Ellsbury and Victorino scored on a double by Papi.  Drew hit a solo shot in the third.  And Ellsbury walked and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fourth with a little help from a throwing error.

We began our series with Detroit on Monday with a loss, which was unfortunate because Lackey pitched really well, giving up only three runs in over seven innings of work.  We lost because we got shut out.  Again.  It was just one of those days where good pitching happened to coincide with bad, or in this case nonexistent, hitting.

Tuesday’s game went a lot better; good pitching coincided with good pitching, and a lack of hitting coincided with a lack of hitting, but we did that much better to pull it off.  Specifically, we did one run better, winning by a final score of 2-1.  The game was literally won in the fifth inning, when Gomes singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Middlebrooks.  Lester gave up only one run in seven innings, and the relief corps, featuring appearances by four pitchers, held it together.

But I have to say that the highlight of this past week was unquestionably our epic victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, during which we scored a whopping twenty runs.  That’s right.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Let me repeat that.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Wow.  With that run total alone, we could have won every game for at least a week.  Dempster started that one and gave up those four runs in his six innings; Workman, Morales, and De La Rosa each pitched an inning after that.  But that offensive performance was supremely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  The only member of the starting lineup not to have gotten at least one hit was Pedroia, and even he managed to bat in a run.  We put twenty-five base runners on the field that day, and only five did not step on home plate.  The only inning in which we didn’t score was the first.  In the second, Nava singled and Drew homered.  In the third, Ellsbury homered.  Papi led off the fourth with a homer.  Victorino singled and scored on Pedroia’s sac fly in the fifth.  And then came the sixth, which was one of the biggest and most massive innings I have ever seen.  We scored eight runs in the sixth inning alone; that’s more than we’ve scored in some games and even over the course of several games combined.  It was absolutely amazing.  First, Nava walked, Napoli doubled, and Drew walked intentionally to load the bases with nobody out.  Then Carp came in to pinch-hit and ended up walking, which scored a run.  Then Detroit made a pitching change, and Middlebrooks proceeded to welcome the new pitcher to the game by going hard on the second pitch of the at-bat for a grand slam.  Yeah.  A grand slam.  Like I said, it was epic.  Then Ellsbury struck out, Victorino got hit, Pedroia struck out, Papi doubled in another run, and Nava’s homer accounted for another two.  Like I said, it was epic.  We followed our eight-run sixth with a five-run seventh.  Drew doubled, and then Middlebrooks was awarded the home run that he deserved after a review.  Then Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a single by Quintin Berry, who came in to pinch-run for Victorino in the previous inning.  And then Papi homered for another two runs.  And then Napoli led off the eighth with a homer.  Those eight home runs in a single game, a feat previously achieved in 1977, tied a club record.  It was the first time any team had done it since 2010.  (Interestingly, we played the Blue Jays in that ’77 game, and it was the Blue Jays who did it in 2010.) It was also a banner day for Papi, who collected his two thousandth hit in the process and who deserved every second of the standing ovation that he received.  He also passed Billy Williams for forty-seventh on the all-time homer list.

We carried that offensive momentum with us right into our next win.  We started our series with the Evil Empire on Thursday, and the final score was 9-8.  Peavy gave up four runs in six innings, Thornton gave up another two, and Tazawa blew his save by giving up another two.  Then Breslow was awarded the win, and Uehara was awarded the save.  We needed ten innings to get it done, but the fact that we got it done was the greatest part.  Lavarnway and Middlebrooks led off the third with a pair of singles, and Lavarnway scored on a double by Ellsbury while Middlebrooks scored on a groundout by Victorino.  Middlebrooks homered in the fourth.  Victorino led off the fifth with a homer; then, Pedroia, Papi, and Nava loaded the bases with nobody out with two singles and a walk.  Pedroia scored on a single by Napoli, and Papi scored on a force out by Lavarnway.  Nava doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway in the seventh.  The bottom of the seventh was an enormous mess, during which the blown save occurred; fortunately, with two out in the ninth, Napoli singled and scored on a single by Drew.  With one out in the tenth, Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored the winning run on a single by Victorino.

The same good things can be said about Friday’s game, which, thanks in large part to the Yankees’ bullpen, we won, 9-8.  Doubront himself actually gave up six runs on six walks and three hits, one of which was a home run.  But our bullpen held it together.  Meanwhile, Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a single by David Ross.  Napoli led off the fourth with a double and scored on a groundout by Drew.  Middlebrooks led off the fifth with a solo shot.  And then we scored another five runs in the seventh inning alone, during which the Yanks went through three pitching changes.  Ross singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Victorino singled, and Carp walked to load the bases.  Pedroia singled in Ross, which kept the bases loaded, and after Papi struck out, Napoli worked the count full after receiving seven pitches but went yard in a huge way on the eighth pitch, delivering an enormously massive grand slam.  I can’t even describe the awesomeness of it all.  And we weren’t even done.  With one out in the eighth, Middlebrooks singled and then Victorino homered them both in.  Carp singled, Pedroia grounded out, and Papi and Napoli each walked.  Nava walked in one run, and Drew singled in another.

Yesterday, we enjoyed yet another high scoring performance, winning 13-9.  Lackey lasted less than six innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits, and then Britton, one of four relievers that we had to sent out, allowed two runs of his own.  But, in keeping with the week’s theme, we scored more.  Papi led off the second with a double, and Napoli followed with a home run.  Bogaerts led off the third with a double, Victorino got hit, and then it was Gomes who homered.  We had four straight scoring plays in the fourth, after Middlebrooks and Bradley led it off with two singles: Lavarnway doubled, Bogaerts grounded out, Victorino doubled, and Gomes singled.  And then Pedroia doubled and Papi hit a sac fly.  Each of those scoring plays accounted for one run.  Bradley walked in the fifth, and one out later, Bogaerts hit a two-run shot.  And then Napoli homered in the ninth.

We played very well yesterday also, but it wasn’t good enough.  This one was evenly matched, but the wrong team came out on top.  Lester turned in a quality start, giving up only three runs over the course of eight innings.  But they just scored one more run than we did.  Papi and Carp led off the second with back-to-back doubles that accounted for our first run, and Papi doubled and scored on Salty’s groundout in the sixth.  And then Middlebrooks delivered in a big way, smacking a game-tying solo shot to lead off the ninth.  But Workman’s not-so-excellent work in the bottom of the inning did us in.  He looked great at first, but between the first two outs of the frame, he allowed a single, which became important when he issued a wild pitch that brought the runner in.  And so we lost, 4-3.

And, as if our awesome performances were not awesome enough, we find ourselves in first place in the AL East, eight and a half games above Tampa Bay.  (The Yankees, might I add, are eleven games out of first, which is good for fourth in our division, and at this moment, they are not even in the running for the Wild Card.) We also have the best winning percentage in the entire Major Leagues.  And that’s a great place to be.

In other news, the Patriots played the first regular-season game of the year yesterday! We beat the Bills, 23-21, in a real nailbiter that went right down to the wire.  We went 3-1 in preseason, beating the Eagles, 31-22, and then the Buccaneers, 25-21, and after losing to the Lions, 40-9, which was especially scathing, we beat the Giants, 28-20.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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There was no perfectly placed, perfectly timed pinch-hit single last night.  Last night, it was just the usual.  There were no special moments and no heroics.  And ultimately we lost because we didn’t play the ordinary game as well as Baltimore played it.  As evenly matched as we were, we were outscored.  And that’s how games are won, or rather, in this case, lost.

Neither team scored in the first, but we were the first to get on the board when Nava led off the second with a double and scored two outs later on a single by Drew.  Lester, however, gave our one-run lead to Baltimore by allowing two runs in the third.  He gave up a double that at least set the runner back at first on a fielder’s choice after the next at-bat.  Then he issued a walk followed by a bases-clearing double.  He made it worse when he gave up a walk followed by an RBI double in the fifth.

Victorino single-handedly brought Baltimore’s lead back down to one by smacking a solo shot toward the Monster to lead off the sixth.  That was huge.  In a low-scoring game, that run counted for a lot.

Lester’s start stopped at six innings; Thornton came on for the seventh, put two on base, and managed not to allow any runs.  Workman pitched the eighth, and he and Breslow shared the ninth.  As for the offense, that second run proved to be our last, and we lost, 3-2.

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

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We pulled out all the stops for this one.  The Monster in particular had a very busy night what with all the long balls coming at it.  That was awesome.  Home runs were not hard to come by, and admittedly they usually result when a pitcher misses his mark, but you need good hitters to spot those mistakes, and we were most definitely on watch.

Doubront cruised through the first two.  In the third he gave up two singles and hit a batter to load the bases, and then he walked in a run and gave up a successful sac fly.

And that inning was literally his only blemish.  He didn’t go the distance, but he looked really sharp.  He didn’t face more than four batters in an inning during the rest of his start.  He gave up just those two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out seven overall during his start.

He was replaced in the seventh by Thornton, and Britton pitched the eighth and ninth.

But we scored more.  In the first, Victorino walked and scored on a sac fly by Papi.  We went down in order in the second, but we were back at it in the third.  Middlebrooks led it off with a single, and after Ellsbury flied out, Victorino unleashed on a four-seam on a 3-1 count.  The ball sailed toward the Monster, and we had ourselves two more runs.  The four was our big frame, though.  We scored five runs in the fourth.  Napoli led it off with another home run on another four-seam toward the Monster yet again.  Then Salty singled, Drew walked, Middlebrooks struck out, Ellsbury singled which led to Drew being thrown out at third, and Victorino got hit, which loaded the bases.  Salty and Ellsbury both scored on a double by Pedroia, Papi walked intentionally, and Gomes doubled in Victorino and Pedroia.

We didn’t even skip a beat and scored three runs in the fifth.  The Orioles picked up two outs in the process, but Drew walked, Ellsbury singled, and then Victorino went yard again on the second pitch of his at-bat, a slider this time.  Also toward the Monster.  I’m sensing a theme.

We took a break in the sixth before Middlebrooks singled, Ellsbury doubled, and both scored on a double by Victorino in the seventh.

And that was a wrap! The final score was 13-2.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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