Posts Tagged ‘Miguel Cabrera’

And the ugly opening disappointment continues.  Lester is our only pitcher who’s had a respectable start so far, and even that resulted in a loss.  This is a terrible start to the season.  Terrible, terrible, terrible.  We just got swept by the Tigers.

Unlike Beckett, Buchholz didn’t give up any home runs.  In fact, he only gave up two extra-base hits, and both of them were doubles.  But he still managed to give as many runs total in less baseball time.  He only lasted four innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out two.  That means that, yesterday, he was a bad pitcher.  He may have been good during Spring Training, and he may, we hope, be better going forward, but yesterday, he was just a bad pitcher.  Because a good pitcher doesn’t let his opposition play so much small ball that they score seven runs on eight hits in four innings.

In total, he threw seventy-eight pitches, fifty of which were strikes.  It took him thirty-one pitches to get through the first inning alone; that’s worse than some of the inning totals I remember Dice-K putting up, even on his bad days.  Not coincidentally, he allowed four runs that inning.  He then threw seventeen pitches in the second and gave up one run, twenty-one in the third and gave up no runs, and only nine in the fourth, unquestionably his best inning, even though he gave up two more runs.  He threw mostly four-seams, which topped out at ninety-four miles per hour, with some nice cutters, curveballs, and changeups mixed in; he added some two-seams also, but they weren’t great.  Nice variation of speeds, and tight release point.  Command, control, efficiency, and effectiveness, not so much.

Thankfully, Padilla pitched four absolutely crucial and stellar shutout innings of relief after that, and the offense even came alive.  How ‘bout that.  By the time we entered the bottom of the ninth, if you can believe it, we were actually the proud owners of a three-run lead!

In the second, Aviles doubled in Papi, who led off the inning with a single, and McDonald, who walked after that.  In the third, Papi doubled in Gonzalez, who led off the inning with a single.  Then McDonald struck out and Sweeney singled.  Aviles singled in Papi, Shoppach got hit, Punto sacrificed Sweeney in, Aviles scored on a balk, and Shoppach scored on a single by Ellsbury.

We didn’t score again until the sixth, which Ellsbury led off with a double.  And then Pedroia flew out and moved Ellsbury to third.  But it didn’t end up mattering which base Ellsbury was at because Gonzalez went deep.  That’s right.  Adrian Gonzalez hit his first home run of 2012, and it was a big one, too.  It broke the tie of seven and sailed into the back of the seats in right field on the first pitch of the at-bat, a sinker inside that was supposed to be outside and that clocking in at ninety miles per hour.  Well, that’s just what happens when you pitch to Gonzalez and miss your location.  And you could totally tell that he was itching for the use of his power stroke.  It was absolutely fantastic.  It was what we’d been waiting to see from him all spring, and it’s what we hope to continue to see from him all season long.

In the top of the ninth, we put what we thought was the icing on the cake; McDonald and Ross hit back-to-back singles to start the inning, and Punto singled in McDonald.  So, at the time, the score was 10-7 in our favor, and it looked very much like we were going to finally acquire our first win of the season.

But I don’t think the rest of the bullpen received the win memo; maybe it got lost in the tunnel or the clubhouse or something, but it looked a lot to me like they received some sort of memo before the season started that it’s actually their job to ensure that we lose or something.

Aceves replaced Padilla and allowed two straight singles followed by a resultantly three-run home run by Miguel Cabrera on the first pitch of the at-bat.  It was like Aceves couldn’t wait to give it up.  Needless to say, it tied the game, and it was crushing.

Then Morales came in and secured three straight outs and pitched a scoreless tenth; honestly, his performance kind of made me question why he didn’t just stay in the game.

In the top of the eleventh, we mounted what I thought was going to be our comeback.  Ross walked on seven pitches to start it off, Aviles singled, Salty struck out, and Punto singled in Ross.  Ellsbury struck out, and Pedroia singled in Aviles.  That plus a quality relief performance in the bottom of the inning, and we would have our first win of 2012.

Again, I really don’t think the bullpen was told that we were trying to win.  Padilla and Morales somehow figured it out, but his replacement, Melancon, sure didn’t.  After securing a groundout, he allowed two straight singles followed by a sac fly that brought in one and then a home run that brought in two.  Game over.  We lost, 13-12.  We are 0 and 3 on the year.

Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Gonzalez all went two for six.  Punto and Papi both went three for six, and Aviles went three for five.  Five of our hits were for extra-bases, four of them doubles and one of them Gonzalez’s homer.  We left thirteen on base and went eight for twenty-one with runners in scoring position.  Pedroia made a beautiful play in the eighth where he did his classic move of diving to the ground to make a catch and prevent a base hit and then springing up to throw to first for the out.

Aceves and Melancon were both awarded blown saves, with Melancon rightly taking the loss.

I don’t understand this.  I really don’t.  We had the lead in hand.  Even with Buchholz’s terrible performance, we had the lead in hand.  We were about to win, and the bullpen, both literally and figuratively, totally dropped the ball.  I mean, how on earth does a team score twelve runs and not win? Yet again, so much for Bobby V. stocking the roster with pitchers.

AP Photo

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Yeah…so…that was not pretty.  In no conceivable way was that pretty.  There was nothing pretty about it.  Usually, you expect a baseball game to have some balanced ratio of good, bad, and ugly; if you’re lucky, you’ll have mostly good, very little bad, and almost no ugly.  Yesterday, we had just ugly.  Like, really ugly.

So there’s no point sugar-coating it.  The Josh Beckett we saw on the mound yesterday was not the Josh Beckett we saw in Spring Training or in our mind’s eye when we pictured how we expected this game to go down.  He wasn’t himself yesterday.  If you told me that he would last only four and two-thirds innings and in that time give up seven runs on seven hits, five of which were home runs, I would not have believed you at all.  You read right.  Seven runs on seven hits, five of which were home runs.  Those seven runs were the most he allowed since 2010.  Those five home runs ties a career high first set in 2009.  Just to give you an idea of how bad this is for Beckett, last season he didn’t allow his fifth home run of the season until June 28.  Yesterday was April 6.  This better not have anything to do with his thumb, which is what he stated.

There was a two-run home run in the first with one out on a two-seam by Miguel Cabrera; obviously that hurts.  Then there was a lead-off solo shot in the fourth on a cutter by Prince Fielder.  Then there was a two-run home run in the fourth, still with nobody out, on a changeup, the first pitch of the at-bat, by Alex Avila.  Then Cabrera and Fielder hit back-to-back solo shots in the fifth, both on changeups.  Cabrera’s home run was initially ruled a double; the ruling was overturned using instant replay.

He also walked one and struck out only three.  He threw eighty-three pitches, fifty-nine of which were strikes.  No command.  No control.  No efficiency (nineteen pitches in the first, nine in the second which was his best inning and not coincidentally his only one-two-three inning and also one of only two in which he did not allow a home run, fifteen in the third which was the other homerless inning, twenty-one in the fourth, and nineteen in the fifth before he was pulled).  No effectiveness.

I will say that his cutter and his two-seam were fabulous; ninety and eighty-two percent, respectively, of the ones he threw were strikes.  Too bad both pitches accounted for only thirty-one combined.  Also, he maxed his fastball at around ninety-three miles per hour.  And obviously he took the loss, which he totally deserved.

Unfortunately, the damage didn’t stop there.  Atchison relieved Beckett, finished the fifth and sixth, and gave up another run.  Albers pitched the first two outs of the seventh and gave up two runs, only one of them earned, the other thanks to a throwing error by Salty right after a spectacular play at home to get Fielder out.  Thomas finished the seventh, and Bowden pitched the eighth.  The latter two were our only pitchers not to allow runs.  It was a sad, sad day indeed.

By the way, did I mention that the offense did almost nothing? No, really.  The offense actually did almost nothing.  We collectively hit only one extra-base hit; it was a double by Salty.  We left seven on base and when a whopping 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.  Gonzalez went two for four and Sweeney went two for three for the only multi-hit games.  Ellsbury, Youk, Ross, and Aviles are all hitless in these last two games.  And, lastly, we failed to bat in and score a single run.  That’s right.  We lost, 10-0.  And in addition to Salty’s error, Aviles made a fielding error.  It was not a good day whatsoever by any stretch of the imagination.

In other news, the B’s beat the Sabres yesterday in a shootout, 4-3, battling back from a two-goal deficit.  The regular season is now over! The Rangers clinched the Eastern Conference, but we’ve clinched our division and therefore a playoff spot.  Our 102 points are good for second in the conference; the Panthers are third with ninety-two points.  Are you thinking repeat? I’m thinking repeat.

Presswire Photo

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Congratulations to Joe Mauer on winning the American League’s MVP award.  Youk and Bay didn’t fair too badly, taking sixth and seventh respectively, but they didn’t have the .365 average with the twenty-eight home runs and ninety-six RBIs to go with the starting catcher position.  Mauer took all but one first-place votes and was only the second catcher to win it in thirty-three years.  (It’s no secret that catchers usually can’t hit.  Which explains why Victor Martinez is next season’s top priority.) And those numbers also earned him the Ted Williams Award, given to baseball’s leading hitter.  And of course who but Albert Pujols won it for the National League.  Obviously.

Jonathan Papelbon was the club’s Fireman of the Year.  Daniel Bard was the club’s Rookie of the Year.  Nick Green won the Jackie Jensen Award for spirit and determination, and let me tell you something: any shortstop who goes from non-roster invitee to four-month starter has no shortage of spirit and determination.

As far as the stove is concerned, it’s still not too hot.  We acquired Royals infielder Tug Hulett for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Alex Gonzalez signed a one-year deal with the Jays for about three million dollars, with a club option for two and a half million.  Now that he’s unfortunately out of the picture, we’re showing interest in Marco Scutaro, who says it’s either us or the Dodgers.  We’re also shopping Mike Lowell.  Surprise, surprise.  Even if we do end up shipping him off, it won’t even be a fair deal, because the recipient club would be getting a top-notch, albeit health-wise unpredictable, third baseman for fifty percent off, because we’d have to swallow at least that much of his salary to make him palatable.  It’s really just sad.  He had a phenomenal season (and postseason) in 2007 and amble moments of brilliance in 2008, especially in the ALDS.  But he is getting older, and that was in California where the weather is warmer, so perhaps a team from a city with a warmer climate would be a better fit for him.

But a few big names have surfaced.  The Tigers are apparently interested in trading Miguel Cabrera (with Detroit’s financial situation, who wouldn’t be?), and we’ll probably get first dibs.  Also, it’s official: we are going for Roy Halladay and going big.  The problem is that, to close both of these deals, we’ll almost certainly have to part with Clay Buchholz.  We’d also have to part with Casey Kelly, at least, to land Halladay.  And after the performance Clay Buchholz gave in Game Three of the ALDS (walking into an elimination game as a young pitcher with no postseason experience after having seen the lineup put up zero run support), I don’t know how comfortable I would be with giving him up.  I think we owe it to him, the organization, and ourselves to see more of what he’s got before we decide that he is not, in fact, one of the greats in the making.  But the plot thickens: Halladay said he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to the Bronx.  I’m not saying we should engage in prevention via irresponsible acquisition, but I am saying that we need to weigh our actions very carefully.  Especially since Halladay is getting older.  That’s something that seems to be lost amidst the sensation of it all.  The man is not immortal.  He ages.  And while he ages, his abilities will decline.  And right now, he’s at a point in his career where we can expect his next four or five years to be considerably different from his last four or five.

Turns out that Ron Johnson is not our new bench coach.  DeMarlo Hale is.  Ron Johnson joined the Major League staff to coach at first in replacement of Hale.  I have to say I feel more comfortable with Hale as bench coach than I did when I thought Johnson would be doing it.  Not that I don’t think Johnson would be a good bench coach, but if we’re talking about the importance of knowing the players and the franchise inside-out, Hale, who’s been coaching first base for a while now, clearly has the edge there.

At the end of my recent posts, I’ve usually said something like, “All we can do now is wait and see.” I say that because it’s true.  But it’s also true that the suspense is killing me.  I keep getting this feeling that the offseason won’t come to a close until Theo Epstein does something big, but I can’t figure out what that’ll be.  A trade? A signing? Another starting pitcher? A new power hitter? It’s too hard and too early to tell.  But one thing’s for sure: something’s definitely brewing.  The front office has something up its sleeve.  The foundations have been laid for some sort of shake-up, even if we can’t quite figure out what it’ll be.

But before we conclude, I would like to report that Bud Selig will be retiring after the 2012 season.  It’s been one interesting ride.  He was named acting commissioner in 1992 and official commissioner in 1998, and since then we’ve seen a growth in the baseball market, an expansion of the postseason via the Wild Card, the introduction of revenue sharing, Interleague, a players’ strike, the first World Series cancellation since 1904 (ten years shy of a century), and the steroid era.  There was good, there was bad, and there was most definitely ugly.  What do we need in a successor? That’s an extremely open-ended question, but whoever it is will be charged with the difficult task of cleaning up baseball’s public image.  So much controversy occurred during Selig’s tenure that MLB will probably look to someone with a hard-line streak, someone who can keep the sport in line while still bringing revenue in.  We’ll see what happens.

The B’s beat the Blues, Wild, and Sens and lost to the Devils in sudden death.  The Pats beat the Jets.

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Our winning streak against the Yanks was snapped on the first night of the series.  John Smoltz effectively proved once and for all that he’s no longer got it.  In fact, he’s got so little of it that he was officially released.  Finally.  Anyway, we eventually got swept.  The series lasted four games, and we lost all four.  Two were shutouts.  The first was Junichi Tazawa’s first Major League decision; it was a loss in fifteen innings.  Just saying the phrase “fifteen innings” makes me feel very lucky not to be a reliever.  On the whole, I don’t really think I can even describe my rage and despair.  Let’s just say that wasn’t the Red Sox team we’d been seeing up to this point.  And that it was painful.  Really painful.  Really, really painful.  Between that and us dropping our two previous games with Tampa Bay, we’d lost six in a row to our division rivals.  Great.  But it gets better.

We took three of four from Detroit, including our win on August 12.  The one where Youk charged the mound.  Basically, it all started when Brad Penny beaned somebody the night before.  Then Youk was beaned but just took first base.  Junichi Tazawa started the next game and retaliated by hitting Miguel Cabrera on the hand.  He left the game at his next at-bat.  (That’s when the whole retaliation thing gets sticky, especially when you’ve got an inexperienced kid on the mound.  Tazawa went on to get the win, by the way.) Rick Porcello responded by going up and in on V-Mart, who wasn’t very happy.  But then when Youk came to bat, Porcello did in fact hit him on the back.  Youk snapped, charged the mound, threw his helmet at the kid, and tackled him to the ground.  Both benches cleared and the bullpen came out.  It was ugly.  Youk and Porcello were both tossed.  Now, this is a difficult situation to interpret.  The key here is to determine whether Porcello hit Youk on purpose.  If he did, Youk at least had a motivating reason for his actions.  (That’s not to say he’s excused for it; that’s to say we know why he did it.) If he doesn’t, Youk doesn’t.  So let’s look at the big picture.  The retaliation was going back and fourth; beaning attempts were made by both sides.  It looked like Porcello tried to get V-Mart and didn’t but was successful in his attempt on Youk, who for some reason always takes more of his fair share of hit-by-pitches.  On the other hand, when you analyze the pitch, it appears that the ball may have simply gotten away from Porcello.  After the brawl, Jim Leyland had a long conversation with Tito, perhaps explaining that his young arm didn’t do it on purpose.  Then again, that’s tough to buy when the kid fired on V-Mart and missed.  Either way, Youk will serve his time.  That’ll hurt, but luckily no injuries were sustained.

After Youk was thrown out, Lowell came in.  He’s been spending more and more time on the bench lately now that we have V-Mart, which is highly unfortunate.  And when he came in, he showed why.  Two balls hit well out of the park are pretty good proof he’s still got it, I’d say.

Tito was ejected in the same game.  He argued a close call at first.  Yeah.  That was quite the game.

We re-acquired Alex Gonzalez.  His fielding percentage in 2006 was a franchise-record-breaking .985.  If only he’d consistently batted a third of that.

Tim Wakefield completed a rehab outing with the PawSox and is making good progress.  Kottaras caught him.

Brian Anderson saw action in a Boston uniform, and Josh Reddick was sent down to the PawSox to take his place.  Anderson, a good defender, will replace Drew, who’s currently dealing with a sore groin (again) and isn’t expected to start until tonight.

Jed Lowrie and Rocco Baldelli are both on the fifteen-day disabled list.  Jason Bay is luckily off, which means that Youk doesn’t have to continue playing left field.  Jerry Remy says he’s got a date in mind for returning this season, and I’m looking forward to it.  Not that Eck and Dave Roberts haven’t been doing a great job.  They have.  But Remdawg’s been missed.  He says his leave of absence was lengthened by depression, but I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we hope he gets well soon.

There was one more thing I wanted to add.  One more very important thing I wanted to address.  What was it again? Oh, yeah.  We’re seven and a half games behind the Yankees in second place.  Only three ahead of the Rays, who are currently in third.  We’re half a game out of the Wild Card behind the Rangers.  In short, this is a complete and total disaster.  What we are witnessing here is a breakdown of the team as a whole.  Something’s gone horribly wrong.  We need hitting and pitching, when just a short time ago it seemed we had adequate or surplus amounts of both.  It’s absolutely excruciating to see a team so stacked fall so far from such high potential.  I mean, this state of affairs can not continue.  It’s pretty much impossible for this team to sustain such a low level of performance when its key members are healthy.  We are in an extremely sizable hole right now.  There can be no doubt about that.  But we’ve dug ourselves out of worse.  We’re capable.  That’s all I’m saying.  That, and I would just like to state again that it’s painful.  Really painful.  Really, really painful.  It’s like watching a catastrophe in slow motion.  At this rate, it will be a catastrophe in slow motion.  It’s starting to feel sickeningly like 2006.  Nuff ced.  Honestly, I can’t even talk about it.

Frank Galasso

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