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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Young’

So much badness happened last night, I’m not even sure where to start.  But no matter where I start, we still lost.  Now, sometimes there are losses that have silver linings.  Maybe a slumping guy hit his way out of it, or a pitcher had a really good outing but it was just a tough night, or we played all-around good ball but couldn’t come up with some extra runs.

Last night wasn’t like that.  Last night was just a fail.

And when I say fail, I actually mean fails.  Plural.  As in two very costly errors.

Doubront tossed four and two-thirds frames.  He gave up seven hits.  He walked two.  He struck out five.  He threw ninety-four pitches.  And two of the four runs he gave up were unearned by his own hand.  Literally.  He made two throwing errors.  When I said in my report card that his inexperience still shows, this is exactly the kind of thing I meant.

Almost all of the badness occurred in the top of the fifth.  Doubront had allowed two runs in the first, one of which was one of his two unearned.  Andrus led off the game with a ground ball that Doubront fired down the first base line.  That one, I can at least understand.  The game barely just started, and he was in a rush.  And two runs is a deficit you expect the offense to handle.  In fact, it was handled almost exclusively by Drew, who, in the bottom of the second, singled in Youk after his double off the Monster and then scored on a wild pitch, which was all we could muster with the bases loaded.  So between the botched leadoff grounder and the wild-pitch run with the bases loaded, something just didn’t feel right.

Indeed, the Rangers tagged him for five runs in the fifth inning.  Two were on base, one man was out, and we had a one-run lead.  Hamilton smacked one right back to Doubront, who thought he had Young at second.  But he hesitated while Scutaro got over to the bag, but his throw was disgusting.  Seriously.  It was disgusting.  It ended up in center field, and both runners advanced to second and third.  So his quick reflexes were great, but if you can’t get your feet under you, it really doesn’t matter.  Maybe he was feeling the one-hour wait during the rain delay; I don’t know.  All I know is that we could have ended the inning right there.  Instead, it was the beginning of the end for us.  Doubront made the mistake, but all of us paid for it.

Doubront left after that, and Fernando Cabrera, freshly called up from Pawtucket, came on.  He proceeded to issue back-to-back walks, the latter of which came with the bases loaded and resulted in a run.  Then Molina’s grand slam, combined with his second-inning single, fourth-inning double, and eighth-inning triple, made him the first visitor to hit for the cycle at Fenway since Andre Thornton of the Indians on April 22, 1978.  His triple bounced off Patterson’s glove and into the triangle, of all places.  Let me tell you, it was not fun to watch.  I don’t enjoy watching us lose, I don’t enjoy the opposition batting around, and I don’t enjoy visitors setting records and completing milestones at our expense.  I just don’t.

That inning was devastating.  It destroyed the game completely.  Think about it.  Beltre just broke the tie in the bottom of the fourth with a towering blast into the back rows of the Monster seats.  It was a breaking ball, he did the kneel, and we had a lead and some momentum, just like that.  We’d score another run in the sixth, when Drew yet again did some manufacturing with a sac fly.  But that was it.  We went on to lose, 8-4.

Some updates on the injury report.  Finally, it’s good news.  Pedroia has now been cleared to start putting pressure on his foot.  He’s out of the boot and into a shoe.  Buchholz finished his one and only rehab start in the minors on Friday.  V-Mart participated in batting practice on Friday from the left side of the plate for the second day in a row.  Beltre, as we know, is back in the lineup; his MRI showed no damage to his hamstring, but he’s still not completely healthy.  And last but certainly not least, Beckett is making a rehab start today in the minor leagues and could return after this.  And he’s been good, too.

So what’s Doubront’s fate? He’s going back to Pawtucket as soon as Buchholz is ready to go.  That could be as early as today, since Buchholz will probably start on Wednesday.  Speaking of Wednesday and therefore the schedule, we have two more games at home against Texas before we take our big road trip to the west coast.  That starts Monday, so get ready for a week and a half of late starts.  We’re visiting Oakland, Seattle and LA.  Then we have an off day before going home.  So we’ll have to gear up and build some momentum in this series before that road trip.  Not to mention the fact that we’re six and a half games out of first, the most we’ve been out since May 29.  We’ve lost seven of our last nine.  We’re regressing, and it’s not good.  The best we can do now is split with Texas, and we need to make sure we do that.  Lackey will face Cliff Lee tonight, so he’s got work to do.  Hopefully he’ll get it done.

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Not really what I had in mind when I pictured the start of the second half.  To be honest, I pictured some sort of decisive slugfest, something that would resemble the start we wanted to the first half but didn’t get.  Instead, we lost by five runs.

Wakefield allowed seven of those runs, only six of which were earned, on eight hits in the grand total of two innings for which he lasted.  Six in the first on nine hits – three straight hits scored the first run and then six straight hits, culminating in a home run into the Monster ended it – and one in the third without recording an out.  No walks, two K’s, and a loss.  This was his shortest start since giving up seven runs in one and two-thirds in September 2008, also against the Rangers, interestingly enough.  And he was efficient.  He managed to allow all that damage with just thirty-four pitches, about thirty of which were knuckleballs.  He threw twenty-four of them in the first inning alone.  His release point wasn’t a point at all; it was more like a line, and he’d release somewhere on this line.  His horizontal and vertical movement were both off the charts.  It was clear that he didn’t have his usual control over the knuckleball; he left a few of them up.  Usually batters like to swing at the first pitch without really seeing it well, they make some sort of contact and put something on the ground for an easy out.  But somehow last night, as they did in September 2008, the Rangers not only swung at the first pitch but kept on swinging and put some hits together and got something going.  That was really the problem.  Wake didn’t issue any free passes; the ball was in the zone, and to be honest with you when the game started but before all the runs started scoring, it looked like he’d have it locked.  But it was strictly the hits that got him in trouble.  It’s rare to see that be a problem when he gets aggressive with the strike zone.

By the way, I would just like to say that I agree with Tito completely: Young struck out.  That was not a foul tip.  And we know this because after Young swung, he ran, which is what you do when you swing through a ball in that situation.  If he really fouled it, he wouldn’t have started running.  So it wasn’t a foul tip.  It was a strikeout.  A strikeout that would’ve ended the inning before another five runs scored.  A strikeout that may have resulted in a victory of 2-1.  I’m just saying.

The final score was 7-2.  The natural deduction from that is that the offense didn’t have it, either.  And that deduction would be correct.  Drew went deep in the fourth completely into the first row of the Monster seats.  It was awesome.  Of his now eleven home runs on the year, he’s now hit ten off of righties.  He unleashed a world of power on that ball and sent it to the opposite field.  High inside fastball.  Perfect timing, beautiful swing, the works.  He’d finish the night two for four, the only multihit game in the lineup.  Then Nava bounced a single off Kinsler’s glove, Cameron got hit by a pitch, and it looked like we were going somewhere.  Naturally, Hall had to fly to center and Cash had to fly to right after that, and the rally died.  In a valiant attempt to redeem himself, Hall clubbed a homer of his own completely over the Monster in his next at-bat in the seventh.  It barely stayed fair.  Also an inside fastball.  Also perfect timing, a beautiful swing, the works.  Also the only event of that half of the inning.

That was Hall’s theme of the night: make a mistake and then make up for it.  He made an error in the third when he failed to handle Hamilton’s grounder, but then he made a fantastic diving catch in the fifth to rob Molina of a line drive.  He’s historically been most comfortable at third, but this was his first start there this year.  Beltre sat out as a precautionary measure.  He’ll likely start tonight.  By the way, Hall has now gone deep when starting the entire outfield and half the infield: second and third.

Speaking of diving catches, Cameron had a nice one in center in the first to rob Davis of a base hit.

Meanwhile, the bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings.  It’s almost like they were collectively the starter, and Wake was the rogue reliever who ruined everything.  How the tables have turned.  Manuel, Richardson, Atchison, and Ramirez.  Four hits, four walks, two K’s.  What an effort.  This was one of the better outings of the bullpen this year.  What a shame.

Neither the Yankees nor Tampa Bay played yesterday, so we extend our deficit by half a game.  Again, not what I had in mind.  At all.  In order to get a good taste in our mouths and start this second half off right, we must win tonight.  That means the offense will have to ramp it up and give Doubront some run support.  And Doubront will have to ramp it up and give us a quality start.  All possible.  We just need to execute.

But I’ll tell you about another let-down.  The Boston Globe posted a poll asking whether we’ll make the playoffs, and most voters said no.  That’s just terrible.  The Royal Rooters would be very displeased.  Not only are we Red Sox Nation and therefore must believe and keep the faith, but we also need to keep in mind that once the regulars return to the lineup, we’ll be able to inflict untold damage on the rest of the league.  We saw proof of that when we battled our way to within a game of first.  It’s possible.  We can do it.  We’ve seen it.  The second half just started only last night; let’s wait and see what happens when it really gets underway.

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Jon Lester was this close to throwing a perfect game.  He carried the bid into the seventh inning.  The seventh inning! Six-plus literally perfect innings! I don’t even want to think about how hard it is for a pitcher to throw something like that.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s absolutely insane.  And it was Lester! Yeah, he’s back.  I think by now that’s the understatement of the century.  If the kid can throw six-plus perfect innings, he’s so back it’s not even funny.  I mean he was on.  He was so on it was scary.  Batter up, batter down.  Plain and simple.  Perfection.  But then with one out in the seventh, Michael Young doubled to left center, and that was the end of it.  It was devastating.  Like I always say, at least it was clean.  But at the time you don’t think about that.  At the time you’re just really, really, really frustrated and disappointed.  But it just goes to show you that a perfect game for Lester isn’t a pipe dream.  The kid just pitched a no-hitter, and he went for perfection last night.  It was a serious possibility.  And even after the bid was broken, the result most definitely wasn’t too shabby.  A complete game (a big thank-you from the bullpen), a run on two hits, two walks, and a new career high of eleven strikeouts.  Eleven.  Did I mention he’s back?

And so was the offense.  We won, 8-1.  It was awesome.  Plenty of everything: runs, RBIs, walks, hits, homers; you name it, we did it.  Let’s start with Lowell, who hit, walked, scored, and plated one via the long ball, but not without some commiseration on the part of the umpires.  The ball hit the upper part of that ledge on the Green Monster a few feet from the foul pole in left field, and Jeff Kellogg initially ruled that the ball stayed inside the park.  But we’ve been down this road before, and the call for that scenario is always that it’s out.  The umpires used instant replay, and sure enough the call was reversed to give Lowell his ninth of the year in the second inning, a solo shot that proved to be what started it all, because after that the slugfest continued.  Pedroia went two for five with two runs, and two RBIs.  Ellsbury walked.  Youk had a hit and an RBI.  Bay had a hit and two RBIs.  Tek and Baldelli both hit, walked, and scored.  Green scored.  And let’s end with Big Papi, who hit home run number two! Sixth inning, nobody on, nobody out, high changeup, and it hits the Pesky Pole.  Nicely done.

James Wright, president of Dartmouth College, threw out the first pitch last night.  He’s retiring after eleven years of the presidency and forty years of service to the college, so that was a nice touch.  Smoltz tossed six innings with the PawSox.  It was his fourth rehab start, but his first with the PawSox and his longest so far.  The PawSox won, 2-1, and he threw 51 of 74 pitches for strikes.  Not bad.  And this week is draft week.  I’m psyched.  True, we’re far from a first pick, but that’s the price you pay when you’re good.  And knowing Theo and Jason McLeod, our scouting director, they’ll still be able to work wonders.

Wow.  So we had no-no bids by Wake and Beckett and now a perfect game bid by Lester.  You’d think Dice-K would be next in line, followed by Penny at the rate our starting rotation is going.  Congratulations to Wake, Beckett, and Lester for more-than-solid efforts and for almost getting it done.  To be completely honest, eventually they probably will.  And when that happens, believe me, we’ll have some things to talk about.  Meanwhile, we’re back in first place by half a game, and Dice-K is pitching opposite Vicente Padilla this afternoon.  Hopefully, the Rangers will have been thoroughly demoralized by Lester’s performance and Dice-K’s job will be that much easier.

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