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Posts Tagged ‘Miguel Olivo’

Oh, man.  Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man.  That was a terrible loss.  It was absolutely crushing.  Crushing, crushing, crushing.  It doesn’t get much more devastating than that.  To hold on and do everything right (I can say that because the only error we made did not result in damage, luckily; it wouldn’t have made a difference, as it turned out, all else being equal, but at least we can hold our heads high the way the score turned out) and play so well until the very last possible minute and then give it all up will bring the pain every time.

The matchup was exceptionally even, but I don’t think anyone thought it would be going into it, which is a huge credit to the pitchers we sent out there.  Morales was nothing short of stunning, both literally and figuratively.  He pitched a full seven shutout innings.  He gave up only three runs, walked two, and struck out seven.  He threw 109 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  He threw a really nasty curveball as well as a nasty two-seam fastball, and his four-seam and changeup were also fantastic.  He took advantage of his arsenal, mixing pitches well and varying speeds.  He was efficient for the most part as well; he threw eleven pitches in the first, nine in the second, twenty in the third, nineteen in the fourth, eighteen in the fifth, thirteen in the sixth, and nineteen in the seventh.

The first and second were his only one-two-three innings.  He gave up his first walk in the third and his second in the fifth.  He gave up a single in the fourth, sixth, and seventh, his only inning in which he had to deal with more than one baserunner thanks to a missed catch by Gonzalez, which put runners at the corners with two out.

Miller had himself a one-two-three eighth inning.  It was Atchison who took the loss for giving up the walkoff RBI single that ended it all.  He began the inning with a flyout but followed it with a double and then an intentional walk.  And then John Jaso pinch-hit for Miguel Olivo and singled on the first pitch of the at-bat to right field, scoring one run to win the game.

If that had been all, the loss would have been crushing but not so devastating because we would have known that we tried our best and it simply wasn’t enough that day against the Mariners.  But it doesn’t end there.  Ross threw to the plate to try to get the runner, and Salty had it and was ready to tag and go into extra innings.  He was ready.  He had the ball and he was in position and everything with ample time and distance to spare.  There wasn’t even a doubt that no run would score.  And if the play had gone according to plan, who knows? Maybe we’d still be out there playing baseball.

But no.  As Salty tried to make the tag, he lost the ball.  I saw it with my own eyes, and even as it was happening, I couldn’t even believe it.  I didn’t want to believe it.  It was one of the more pathetic things I’ve ever seen; Salty didn’t even know he lost the ball until after he applied the tag and saw that the run had scored.  Only then did he notice that the ball was lying several feet from the plate.

Meanwhile, the offense was completely and totally stymied by Felix Hernandez, who pitched a complete game shutout and held us to five hits and one walk.  We struck out thirteen times, which tied a career high for Hernandez.

We went down in order in the first, second, fifth, sixth, and eighth.  We singled in the third, fourth, seventh, and ninth.  Our best opportunities to score were the two innings in which we somehow managed to put two runners on the basepaths: the third, when we had two on with two out thanks to two singles which were for naught when Pedroia ended the threat by hitting a ball too hard to left center field, and the ninth, when we had two on with one out thanks to a single followed by our one walk, which went to Salty.  And then Gonzalez stepped up to the plate and was quickly 3-0.  The situation looked good.  Then, all of a sudden, he swung through a fastball and then fouled off four straight pitches.  So the count was full, and all of Red Sox Nation was hanging on the edge of their seats.  And of course it ended very anticlimactically: with a flyout on the ninth pitch of a valiant at-bat.  And you can thank the spaciousness of the outfield at Safeco for that.

So the final score was indeed 1-0, and it was the most intense pitcher’s duel I’ve seen in a very, very long time.  I mean, it was a real, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel.  It had to be when the final score is 1-0.  But it didn’t have to end the way it did.  Even if we would have lost eventually anyway, it didn’t have to be decided by something so humiliating as simply having lost the ball.  It was actually literally just horrifying.

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If you look up the phrase “pitcher’s duel” in the dictionary, last night’s box score is next to the definition.  That was a duel if I’ve ever seen one.  The score was 0-0 through seven and a half innings.  Lester pitched beautifully.  He was eating the Royals for breakfast.  Batter up, batter down.  Everything was on.  Through eight, he allowed four hits but not one run.  Only two walks.  Eight strikeouts.  Seven were swinging.  One was looking.  Either way the Royals had nothing on him.  He threw 115 pitches and used his full mix: straight four-seam, changeup, cut fastball, slider, curveball.  You name it, he threw it.  For a strike.  This was not the Jon Lester who’s been struggling this year.  This was the Jon Lester who no-hit these folks a little over a year ago.  Easily his best outing of the year.  Easily.

We’ll go in order.  First was Jacoby Ellsbury’s ejection after being called out at home to end the fifth inning.  He swiped second base earlier and tried to score from third while Mark Kotsay was caught in a rundown.  Billy Butler threw home and home plate umpire and crew chief Derryl Cousins called him out.  Furious, he threw his helmet to the ground and was ejected for that.  Derryl Cousins then ejected him.  First of all, he was safe.  He was absolutely safe.  His left foot reached the bag before Miguel Olivo applied the tag.  He was perfectly safe.  Derryl Cousins was so wrong.  Tito came out to defend Ellsbury, of course, and had a very heated exchange with the erroneous umpire, and thankfully Tito was not ejected.  But yeah, Derryl Cousins was wrong.  That was Ellsbury’s first ejection, and if you ask me I agree with Francona; it should’ve been an equipment violation and one-hundred-dollar fine, not an ejection.

But we can’t even technically complain about that, because Ellsbury’s ejection brought Rocco Baldelli into the game.  It’s no secret that Rocco Baldelli has a better arm.  In the top of the seventh with nobody out, Mark Teahen stood at first, Jose Guillen stood at second, and Miguel Olivo stood at the plate.  Olivo launched a fly ball right at Rocco Baldelli, who hauled it in for the first out and then threw it for all he was worth to Dustin Pedroia, gunning down Teahen who was trying to make second.  A very unconventional double play, but a double play nonetheless, and perhaps one Ellsbury couldn’t have made.  Some fantastic baseball right there.

Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah, reigning American League Most Valuable Player, won it for us.  Rule number one of life: never, ever, under any circumstances, try to sneak a fastball by Dustin Pedroia.  Because it will end up bouncing off the wall and plating the game-winning run, which was scored by Bates.  That’s suicide.  That’s, “Actually, I’ll save you the trouble; I’ll just take the baseball and throw it at the Monster myself.”  Incredible.

Then came the ninth inning, and with the extremely close score of 1-0 on the line, Tito brought in Papelbon.  I know he’s been struggling a bit of late, but honestly who else would you go with.  Ramirez? Okajima? Masterson? You can’t not go with Papelbon.  Sometimes when a closer pitches with a big lead, their control and concentration wear down because it’s not the same high-pressure, adrenaline-rush situation.  But still, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we were holding onto our hats.  But Paps did not disappoint.  That also was easily, hands-down, his best outing of the year.  He threw eleven pitches: ten four-seams and a slider.  He went as high as 97 miles per hour and as low as 85.  And he got that job done.  Lock it up, throw it in the win column.  The final score stayed at 1-0, Lester got the win and improved to eight and six, Paps got his twenty-third save, and it was like watching the closer this  time last year or two years ago.  The man was on fire.

Bill Cosby visited the booth in the fourth, which was very entertaining as always and a pleasant surprise.  Lowell is right on schedule with his rehab and will be returning to the lineup soon.  And finally, with this win we are now back to being the sole possessors of a first-place lead.  It’s ony one game, but it’s better than a tie.  And we’ll build on it.  See that? I told you it was temporary.  We all knew it.  And soon we’ll be cruising into the much-needed All-Star break and come out nice and refreshed and ready to go in the second half.  Gil Meche at Smoltz tonight; maybe this’ll be that highly-touted start we’ve been waiting for since the signing.

AP Photo

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