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Posts Tagged ‘Miguel Tejada’

Last night’s game wasn’t disappointing only because we lost.  Of course, a loss will be disappointing.  But this particular loss carried added weight in light of the skid that was our month of April because everything that we’d been doing wrong during our losing streak, we did last night.  It was a total regression.

John Lackey’s outing was one of only a few bright spots.  He pitched seven innings, gave up two earned runs on six hits, walked three, and struck out six on 120 pitches.  I’m still waiting for that pitch count to go down.  I think that’s the highest pitch count we’ve had so far this season.  He topped out at only ninety-two miles per hour.  Both of his fastballs as well as his changeup weren’t very effective.  Luckily, the majority of his pitches were sliders, cutters, and curves, which were excellent.  He threw a lot of pitches down and in, but his command was decent.  Overall, with the exception of the fact that the Orioles started the game with three straight hits which gave them a two-run lead after the first, I’d say that that was a glimpse of what we’d been looking for from him all along.  All he has to do is get that pitch count down, and he’ll be all set.

I can not in good faith say that about the rest of the team.  The rest of the team was too busy embodying our losing streak last night to warrant such an overall compliment.   Last night was our chance to rise over .500 for the first time since Opening Day.  That did not happen.  Thus, I hate to say this, but it’s only fitting that we end this month with this particular kind of loss.

Bard blew the save when Tejada homered to tie it; a 1-0 pitch over the middle.  Ramirez took the loss.  He gave up a double to Jones, and Okajima came on after they intentionally walked Markakis.  He struck out Wieters.  Maybe there was something to be said for his three days of rest, even if it was only one out.  After all, what is a good relief outing but the ability to string together a slew of single outs? Delcarmen came on, and Tejada hit is 1-2 breaking ball, which he left up over the plate, up the middle for a two-out, walkoff single.

The final score was 4-5; we lost in ten.

Drew homered twice, once in the second on something down the middle over the wall in left center and once on a high fastball in the eighth all the way through center field.  Cue the end of Drew’s April blues, which would be another bright spot.  I mean, those were good swings.  That first one was kind of an adaptive swing; he went with the pitch instead of trying to pull it, like he usually does.  Pedroia hit a rare opposite-field jack of his own that barely cleared the wall in right in the sixth, his sixth of the season.  The only run of ours that did not come via the long ball was also courtesy of Pedroia, who singled in McDonald in the seventh.  So, just like during our losing streak, we didn’t convert opportunities.  All three of those homers were solo shots.  We drew ten walks but ended up having left eleven on base.

Which brings us to point of failure number two: we were sloppy in the field.  And by “we,” I of course mean Adrian Beltre who, ironically enough, was acquired for his supposed defensive ability.  We’ve seen this all month.  Actually, it started with McDonald in the third; he bobbled a single by Tejada.  Then, Lackey walked Scott.  Then, Wigginton hit a grounder that Beltre should’ve fielded cleanly, but he threw too low and it resulted in an unearned run.  Beltre needs to thank Atkins for ending it; the bases were loaded, but Atkins hit into a double play that got Lackey out of that jam.  There was also the matter of the killed rally in the seventh; Beltre supposedly interfered on Hermida’s grounder.  A review of the footage will tell you that he had the bag; no doubt about that.  But his left hand caught Wigginton’s foot, which caused him to throw in the dirt.  However, it was clear that the double play would’ve have happened anyway.  And this yet again fuels the fire of debate over instant replay.  He was also caught stealing, by the way.

Nomar will be honored at Fenway with a pre-game ceremony on Wednesday, on Cinco de Mayo.  Perfect! And cue the well-deserved massive standing ovation.

We’re now six games out.  Considering that, before last night, we’d lost three of our four extra-inning contests, we theoretically should’ve seen this coming.  On the bright side, April is now officially over, and we can move on.  Again, we hope.  I think May will bring better things, starting of course with Dice-K.  The moment we’ve all been waiting for has now arrived.  Dice-K will start tonight in Fenway South.  But don’t necessarily expect him to go too deep because, like I said, they’ll probably want to bring him back slowly but surely.  Thankfully, his first start is coming against Baltimore, which should help ease him back into it.  After last night’s despairing loss, a win from Dice-K would be just the ticket.

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We’ll start with the home run derby.  Prince Fielder won it with twenty-three long balls, averaging 439 feet.  His longest and second-longest were the longest and second-longest of the competition, measuring at 503 and 497 feet, respectively.  Nelson Cruz placed second with twenty-one long balls.  Then Ryan Howard with fifteen, and Albert Pujols with eleven.  Joe Mauer and Carlos Pena both hit five, all in the first round, and Adrian Gonzalez hit two, both in the first round.  Brandon Inge didn’t hit any.  Ouch.  If you’ve noticed, hometown heroes rarely do well in the home run derby, so Pujols would’ve been the tempting but unlikely choice for champion.  He came close, though.  Congratulations to Prince Fielder! The Prince of home runs.  Corny but it had to be done.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the game.  As expected, the American League extended its hitting streak over the National League to thirteen All-Star Games.  This doesn’t surprise me.  We all saw this coming.  It happens every year.  But the All-Star Game is just as much about the festivities as it is about the game, so we’ll start with the first pitch thrown by President Obama wearing a White Sox jacket.  It came out of his hand as sort of a lob at Pujols, who picked it out of the dirt.  Not bad.  As far as the game is concerned, I was very pleased to see that this one only lasted nine innings.  Halladay started.  He pitched two innings and gave up three runs on four hits, only two earned.  Those were the only runs the National League would score.  The American League’s eight pitchers struck out five, walked only one, and gave up only five hits (Joe Nathan gave up the other one).  Papelbon, thank you very much, got the win.  Joe Nathan got a hold.  Mariano Rivera got a save, obviously because he wasn’t trying to close a game against us.

But that’s not the point.  Papelbon came into the game in the seventh inning, when the score was tied 3-3, and Brad Hawpe rocketed his first pitch over the outfield wall.  Luckily, Carl Crawford caught it over the wall for the first out of the frame.  For that play alone, Carl Crawford was awarded the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award.  Then, Miguel Tejada flied out to Adam Jones, and Paps struck out Jayson Werth after eight pitches to end a ten-pitch outing.  Another one-two-three inning.  So Paps, who’s been an All-Star all four seasons he’s closed for us, gets the All-Star win he deserves.  Before the break, he actually insisted that Mariano Rivera close, probably due to all of the irrelevant and completely unnecessary flak he received after last year’s perfectly normal comment that he, as any competitive closer would, wanted to close an All-Star Game.  Honestly.  Yankee fans.  Nuff ced.

Wakefield did not pitch.  Not once.  Not even a third of an inning.  Not even to one batter.  To me, that’s cold.  Joe Maddon could’ve put him in somewhere if he really wanted to.

We won, 4-3, and we out-hit the National League, 8-5.  One error each.  RBIs for Joe Mauer, Adam Jones, and Josh Hamilton.  Bay and Youk both had hits.  In the eighth inning, Curtis Granderson tripled and then scored on Jones’s sac fly to break the tie.  Hamilton made a throwing error.

So basically what this whole thing comes down to, what this whole home run derby and All-Star Game and MVP Award and four-day break mean, is that we have secured home field advantage for October.  Technically it means that the American League team has home field advantage, but let’s not kid ourselves.  We all know who that American League team is going to be.  We also really needed this break; we’ll come back after these four days rested, rejuvenated, and ready to go claim that spot as “the” American League team.  The home run derby was a mildly interesting event and the All-Star Game was entertaining, but really it determines something very important.  And something tells me we’ll be very thankful for this victory come the postseason.  Congratulations to the American League All-Stars on your thirteenth straight victory.  You earned it, and we thank you.  Seriously.

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Nothing groundbreaking to report this week.  The pitchers and catchers have started their regimens in Fort Myers, and everything seems to be proceeding according to plan.  Brad Penny had a great bullpen session on Wednesday, and Tek is psyched to be back.  He even says he wants to retire in a Boston uniform, and I believe it, unlike a similar claim made by a certain currently unemployed left fielder who shall remain nameless.  I mean we’re the only Major League team he’s ever played for.  He’s our captain.  And he knows what that means:

I’m going to work my tail off for this pitching staff.  I’m going to work my tail off with other catchers and other position players…This is where my heart is and this is where I wanted to be.

If Scott Boras hadn’t epically failed, Tek would’ve inked a deal with us sooner.  We all knew he was coming back.  And, despite his waning offense, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we’re pretty happy about it.  With all the new pitchers coming in, we’ll need him more than ever, and he can be a sort of mentor to the younger catchers and get them ready to fill his role when he does retire.

The point is, we’re in a pretty good place right now.  The trick will be staying there.  Big Papi, Mikey Lowell, Josh Beckett, JD Drew, Rocco Baldelli, John Smoltz, and Mark Kotsay are all more or less injured in some capacity.  Smoltz and Kotsay won’t even be starting the season on the active roster.  So we’re going to have to make sure all of them take their time with rehab.  But if anything does happen, we can rest assured that we have the depth to cover it.

I’d like to state here that Jed Lowrie should start at shortstop.  His batting average with the bases loaded is ridiculous, and he’s excellent defensively.  And he’s young and fast and versatile.  So yeah.  He should start.

Anyway, our future is bright.  2009 should be a great season.  The Baseball Prospectus projects a Major League-leading 98 wins for us.  And I think that’s definitely within our reach.  Maybe we’ll even win 100 games this season.  Our pitching is very strong, especially with the return to dominance of Beckett and the consistency of Lester.  And I have no doubt that the offense will light it up as usual.  Ortiz’s wrist has improved, Drew found his stroke, Jay Bay is a natural, and Youk is locked up for a good amount of time.  Not to mention Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah and Jacoby Ellsbury who, according to Dustin, has had a phenomenal offseason workout.  So I’m really looking forward to it.

Kevin Millar signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays, and Miguel Tejada admitted to lying to Congressional investigators who were inquiring about Rafael Palmeiro’s possible use of steroids.  I mean after the whole A-Rod story, this is sort of anticlimactic.  It’s a sad, sad day in baseball when you find yourself accustomed to hearing that every other big name is juiced.  Speaking of A-Rod, though, I hope he gets an asterisk.  I really do.  His attempt at explaining himself was just pathetic, and his apology couldn’t have been more ineffectual.  I’ll tell you something: the Yankees are livid right now.  They’re stuck with him for the next nine years, and they could be paying as much as $300 million.  And I don’t even want to talk about how that deal came about.  It was thanks to that stunt Scott Boras pulled right after we won the World Series in ’07, when he turned on his own little spotlight by claiming that A-Rod was done with New York before anyone in a Boston uniform had time to put on their champagne goggles.  Anyway, the Yankees are stuck with him, and that’s fine with me.  A-Rod and the Yankees deserve each other.

In other news, congratulations to Boston University for defeating Northeastern to win this year’s Beanpot Tournament.  The final score was 5-2, pretty lopsided for a contest between the number one and number three teams in the country.  On the other hand, a significant portion of BU’s roster has already been drafted by the NHL, so I guess it’s somewhat understandable.  As for the Bruins, we’ve hit a rough patch recently.  We’re currently riding a four-game losing streak, consisting of an overtime loss to the Flyers, a 5-2 roughing by the Sharks, a 0-1 loss to the Devils, and a shootout loss to the Predators.  All pretty hard to bear, but I’d say the results of our contest with the Sharks is the most concerning.  They beat us by three goals even though they’ve been struggling lately.  We and the Sharks have been battling all season long for supremacy over the league, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of racing them in the Stanley Cup final.  So we need to figure out how to match them, and fast, because it’s already the middle of February.  On the bright side, we’ve got 86 points.  That’s first in the league, three more than the Sharks and twenty more than the Habs, who by the way have lost ten of their last fifteen games.  Always something to smile about.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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