Posts Tagged ‘Mike Cameron’

We won and all, but there was more badness, more disappointment, and more fear and suspense than anything else.  It wasn’t because anyone did anything wrong.  It was because bad things happened to the people who weren’t doing anything wrong.

Lester had a no-no going through four innings.  His start was shaping up to be almost immaculate.  Take away the seven-pitch walk he issued to start the third, and you’re looking at a pitcher who’s halfway through a perfect game.  Due to that walk, that third inning was the only inning during which he faced more than the minimum; that inning, he faced four batters instead of three.  He had only thrown fifty pitches through four innings, thirty-five of which were strikes.  So he was on pace to sustain his performance, and he could have pitched a complete game if necessary.  And he was on pace to do it with the utmost nastiness and filth.  He had all of his pitches going; his sinker, changeup, and curveball were thrown with deadly precision and deception, and his cut fastball was as good as I’ve ever seen it.

Except that he was removed due to a strained left latissimus, a muscle around his left shoulder.  This news is as terrible as Lackey’s start on Monday.  How do we know? Because he was taken out smack-dab in the middle of a no-no bid that looked like it had every intention of continuing.  In that situation, you don’t talk to the pitcher, you don’t look at the pitcher, you don’t touch the pitcher, and you don’t even breathe the same air as the pitcher.  And you definitely do not, under any non-emergency circumstances, remove the pitcher from the no-no situation.  Even if he’s about to end the shutout with a string of walks, you leave him in there to finish what’s his.  Even if he’s about to throw two hundred pitches, you leave him in there to finish what’s his.  You do not ever take him out of there unless there’s something so incredibly urgent that it absolutely can not wait for history-making to take place.  And yet Lester had to leave in the middle of a no-no bid.  Given the fact that Dice-K is out for the rest of the season and Lackey may be right behind him, this is the absolute worst conceivable time for Lester to have any sort of ailment or injury.

The relief corps, with the exception of Paps, was outstanding, especially given the fact that they had to work overtime to try to clean up Lackey’s mess.  Albers pitched the fifth and sixth and got the win; Morales pitched the seventh, and Bard pitched the eighth.

Meanwhile, Papi led off the second with a double and scored on a double by Tek, who scored on a single by Drew.  Then, Pedroia hit a solo shot in the third.  It was huge.  I think Pedroia knew he was going to hit a home run the instant he saw the ball leave the hand.  It was a monster blast, both literally and figuratively.  It completely cleared that wall.  It was his fourth home run from the cleanup spot this year.

So you can imagine the collective exasperation when Paps almost blew everything in the ninth.  He gave up a single and a home run to completely destroy the shutout and allow the Jays to pull within one.  Luckily, the defense stepped up and locked it down.  A textbook outfield throw home by McDonald that made you forget his massive lack of offensive production this year as well as an equally textbook plate-blocking mission by Tek sealed the deal.  That play was clutch.  Without it, we go into extra innings, and being that we rolled out the bullpen already, there’s no telling who would have had to pitch and for how long.  In that situation, we probably would have lost just because we wouldn’t have had pitching to support the runs we’d score, if any.  Tek was a rock at home plate.  John Farrell can claim all he wants that the call was bad, but we all know that that was the final out.  Game over.  The final score was 3-2.  Red Sox Nation sighed in relief as one.  There’s no way Paps deserved that save.  As far as I’m concerned, that save belongs to Tek.  It was the defense version of a walk-off, and it was just as supremely awesome as any walkoff hit.

Youk was out of the lineup, by the way; he has a stiff neck and expects to be back today.  We traded Cameron to the Marlins for cash considerations or a play to be named later.  Gonzalez was voted the American League Player of the Month.  And the team won.

We should be focusing on the positive.  We had a great series against Houston.  We came home and lost on Monday but won yesterday.  Our ace almost fired off the second no-hitter of his career.  But between all the confusing diagnoses and the various ailments that seem to be befalling us at every turn, it’s way too hard to forget the predicament in which we find ourselves in the standings.  Like I always say, the key will be getting on a roll and using our momentum, not squandering it.  And not having all of our starters be injured.  We should have more information on Lester’s status today.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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This is fun.  I like this.  I like how playing in Yankee Stadium is no big deal anymore.  Actually, with the way we’ve been performing there recently, it feels kind of like Fenway.  I mean, except for the fact that Fenway is so much better in every conceivable way, of course.  I just mean we’re ruling it as if it were Fenway.  We have now swept the Evil Empire on their home turf in less than a month’s time.  In this series, we scored twenty-five runs to their ten.  Yankee fans must be in a world of hurt right now.  Cool.

Beckett totally dominated.  Seven full innings, two runs on four hits, two walks, six strikeouts.  104 pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  Lethal cutter.  Lethal two-seam.  Excellent curveball.  The rest of his pitches on the whole weren’t at the level of those three, but they were still effective.  Beckett didn’t record his first strikeout until the third inning, when he rang up Mark Teixeira with a curveball.  He would record a second strikeout with his curveball later on.  Two other strikeouts were ultimately achieved using the changeup, and one each with the four-seam and the cutter.  The two runs he allowed came in the first; he drilled Derek Jeter, and then Curtis Granderson went yard.  But Beckett went on lockdown after that, and that was it.  It was his fifth win of the season, three of which have come opposite CC Sabathia.

May I say that I derived an immense amount of pleasure from observing the complete and total meltdown of the Sabathia’s entire baseball universe in the seventh inning.  Right through the seventh, the game was every bit a pitcher’s duel that the Yankees were in the process of winning by two runs, and we had yet to score.  Our best opportunity came in the second with two men on base.  The seventh inning erased all those zeroes that came before it.  In the seventh inning alone, we scored seven runs.

Papi singled to lead it off and scored on a triple by Lowrie.  Crawford grounded out for the first out of the frame.  Then Cameron promptly doubled to bring Lowrie home.  Tek singled, and Ellsbury singled to bring in Cameron.  Scutaro lined out for the second out of the frame.  Then Gonzalez singled and brought Tek home.  Then Sabathia left, and David Robertson came in.  Ellsbury scored on a single by Youk, and Gonzalez and Youk scored on a double by Papi.  Eight of our twelve total hits were made in that inning alone.

Scutaro doubled and scored on a double by Gonzalez in the top of the ninth; the Yanks got that run back in the bottom of the inning.  But we won, 8-3.  No home runs.  Nothing too flashy.  Just hit after hit after hit in an incredibly huge inning.  That one bad inning is pretty bitter medicine, isn’t it.

We are the first team this year to beat the Yanks in six consecutive games, something we haven’t done on the road since 1912.  And we did it even with a rain delay of three hours and twenty-seven minutes.  In other words, by the time the game could have been over already, which is a fair statement to make considering the fact that the game itself lasted three hours and eleven minutes, we were just getting started.  But it was worth the wait.  I’ll be taking a break for about two weeks; we’re two games in first, and I expect that, within that time, our first-place lead will widen considerably.  If we keep playing like we played during this series, that’s as good as guaranteed.

In other news, from a Bruins perspective, no other time to take a break could possibly be worse.

Reuters Photo

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Yet again, Buchholz simply was not at his best.  The difference is that this start made his last start look like a perfect game.  That’s how bad it was.  This snapped a streak of six straight solid starts.  And trust me, it was a pretty hefty snap.

Buchholz couldn’t even get through the fifth inning.  He was pulled in the fifth after securing the inning’s first two outs because he allowed yet another run.  All told, he allowed six runs, five earned, on eight hits.  He walked two.  He struck out five.  He threw a wild pitch and made an error on a pickoff attempt during the same at-bat in the fourth of which Coco Crisp of all people took advantage.  He threw ninety-nine pitches, sixty-two for strikes.  He threw twenty-seven pitches in an inning twice, once in the first when Oakland scored four runs and again in the fourth when Oakland scored another.  His offspeed pitches were a total mess, so naturally there was no way he would be able to work efficiently, and therefore there was also no way he would keep intact the rest the bullpen had been able to enjoy during the off day.

There are two ways these kinds of games can go.  Either the bullpen comes in and they do an absolutely stellar job, or they come in and they totally blow it.  It just so happens that the former occurred.  In fact, the bullpen pitched so well for so long that I think they should have just saved Buchholz the trouble and made the start instead.  Atchison secured the last out in the fifth plus the first two in the sixth.  Tommy Hottovy finished the sixth; he is the only lefty in the bullpen and replaces Hill, who will likely require Tommy John surgery and who therefore has already pitched in his last appearance of the season.  Jenks, despite a balk, pitched the seventh.  Bard received a hold for the eighth.  And Paps picked up the save in the ninth.

Now, of course, the question becomes how we won.  That’s a good story.

So we were down by four before Ellsbury stepped up to the plate.  He singled, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout by Gonzalez.  So basically he delivered a textbook leadoff hitter’s performance.  Youk doubled after that and scored on a single by Papi.  So we cut our deficit in half and just kept chipping away from there.  In the second, Cameron reached base on a throwing error and scored on a sac fly by Ellsbury.  In the third, Youk walked and scored on a double by Papi, who scored on a single by Lowrie.

At that point, we had a one-run lead that Buchholz promptly surrendered to the A’s.  Nobody scored in the sixth.  From the beginning, we knew from the way Buchholz was pitching that it would be up to the lineup and the bullpen to win the game.  As I said, the bullpen certainly did its part.  It was the lineup’s turn.

Pedroia started the seventh by grounding out.  Then Gonzalez doubled, and Youk got hit, and Papi walked, and Lowrie advanced the runners on a flyout.  With the bases loaded, all Crawford had to do was put the ball in play for a hit.  The count was full, and that’s what he did.  He singled and brought in two runs.

That gave us a one-run lead, which obviously wasn’t safe.  Salty added insurance with a solo shot to lead off the eighth.  It was a slider that stayed down, and he just cleaned it out into the first few rows behind the bullpen in center.

So we won, 8-6.  Gonzalez went three for five, and Youk and Papi both went two for three.  Crawford should have had two hits on the day; he hit what looked every bit like a home run headed for the bullpen in the second inning only to have it be caught literally right at the wall by David DeJesus.  But baseball has a funny way of evening out; Ellsbury made a similar catch literally at the Monster in the fourth.

Last but most certainly not least, Dice-K will have Tommy John surgery next week.  His season is over.  He’ll miss a good portion of next season, after which his contract expires, so even though he’s determined to return to the rotation before then, it’s possible that he won’t and that he’s thrown his last pitch in a Boston uniform.  How possible that is at this point is unclear.  Either way, it’s been quite the ride, often mediocre and always interesting.  We can take several approaches to this.  It’s entirely likely that this surgery was a long time in coming and that having it will allow him to return to the dominance he’d exuded in Japan.  It’s also entirely factual that Dice-K, despite gems earlier in the season, really hadn’t been pitching well of late, so it’s not like this loss is going to affect the team’s performance much.  We’ll be using Aceves and/or Wake for that fifth start, and either of them or a combination of both of them can perform equally as well as, if not better than, Dice-K.  So as far as the team is concerned, we’re in a good situation.  As far as Dice-K is concerned, we obviously hope that the surgery goes well and that his recovery and rehab are quick, productive, and successful.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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The series finale was rained out, so we played a doubleheader yesterday.  I like doubleheaders.  Anyone who loves baseball would love a day when baseball is played almost continuously.  Not great for the team, but good for the fan.  Doubleheaders as a rule are almost never scheduled in advance, so rare indeed is the opportunity to see one.

Buchholz started it off and wasn’t at his best.  Six innings, three runs on six hits, a walk, and two K’s on ninety-eight pitches, sixty-three for strikes.  With that pitch count, he should have gone another inning.  What that means is that he allowed himself to be worked out of pitcher’s counts a little bit.  And two of the runs he allowed came via solo shot, both on changeups.  By the time he left, the game was tied at three.

Ellsbury had doubled to start the game, stole third, and scored on a fly ball by Gonzalez.  In the second, Cameron homered into the bullpen in left.  It was his third homer of the season, and all of them have come against southpaws.  It was a breaking ball that didn’t break.  Pedroia led off the third by also homering into the bullpen in left.  He jumped on a changeup.  It was a laser all the way.

Nobody scored in the seventh.  Nobody scored in the eighth.  Drew started the ninth by flying out.  Then Papi worked the count full.  On the seventh pitch, Papi walloped one into the first few rows of seats in center field.  He has officially hit nothing but home runs off of Jose Valverde.  (I mean, he’s two for two with two homers, but still.) It was a fastball right down the middle.  There was no way he wasn’t going to blast it out of the yard.

The final score was 4-3.  Albers pitched the seventh and eighth and got the win; Paps pitched the ninth and picked up his tenth save of the year.  Lowrie went two for four.  Cameron went a perfect two for two.  And we stole four bases, one each for Youk and Ellsbury and two for Pedroia.  And let me tell you, it was nice to be the ones running for a change.

The nightcap didn’t go so well.  Beckett, for his part, did almost everything he was supposed to do.  He pitched six innings, gave up two runs on five hits, walked five, and struck out five.  That walk total ties a season high.  He threw 107 pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  In the first inning alone, he gave up both of his runs and threw twenty-six pitches.  Clearly he was inefficient.  When you’re in the midst of a pitcher’s duel, it’s really, really bad to be inefficient because it means that you’ll throw more pitches, thus giving the opponent more of a look at you and generally tiring you out.  And you’ll be taken out before your opponent, which means that no matter how on you are, you won’t do your team any good because you’ll be out of the game when it matters most.  Hill pitched a good seventh.  Atchison gave up another run in the eighth.  But Beckett took the loss because he was outdueled.  As far as our offense was concerned, there was none.  We were shut out.  We only had five opportunities with runners in scoring position and did nothing with them.  The most important came in the eighth inning.  Ellsbury walked to put runners at the corners with two out, and all Pedroia could muster was a flyout.  The only extra base hit was a double that belonged to Tek; in total, the team managed only four hits.  We lost, 3-0.

At least now we get to go home again.  We finished this stint on the road with a record of five and two.  Not bad at all.  But it’ll be good to be back.

AP Photo

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The Tribe never stood a chance.  Literally.  Their first pitch of the game was a ball.  Their second was in play for a single.  We went down in order only twice.  The rest of the time, we cruised in every sense.

As I said, the game started with a ball followed by a single.  That was Ellsbury, who also technically scored the game’s first run.  His stolen base wasn’t even necessary to do it because Pedroia smashed it into the left field seats.  Obviously taking a day off worked out; the homer broke a dry spell of 137 at-bats.  But that, my friends, was only the beginning.

Gonzalez and Papi singled back-to-back before Lowrie grounded out.  What followed was one of the most impressive displays of ruthlessness I’ve ever seen and certainly the most impressive this year.  What followed were four consecutive scoring plays.  It would have been five consecutive scoring plays, but Ellsbury singled again to break it up.  Gonzalez flied out to end the inning.  But let’s go back to the beginning.  Crawford singled in a run.  Salty singled in another run.  Crawford and Salty advanced to second and third on an error.  Cameron hit a sac fly to bring in another run.  Drew Sutton, in for Youk who was scratched late due to a sore left hand, singled in another run.  Then the single by Ellsbury.  And then a single by Pedroia for the final scoring play and final RBI of the inning.

By the time the Indians came to bat for the first time yesterday afternoon, they had seen our entire lineup once and the first third of it twice.  And, oh, by the way, they were down by seven.

In contrast to all of that, Lester’s first pitch of the game was a strike.  It may have been followed by a ball, but it was still a strike.  And that strike was a sign of even better things to come.  Lester was on.  He pitched six shutout innings of three-hit ball while walking only one and striking out seven on ninety-seven pitches, sixty-three for strikes.  His cut fastball was fantastic, and he located his off-speed pitches.  That game-opening strike turned into a game-opening strikeout for the Indians, and the inning ended with another strike.  The Tribe went down in order in the second thanks two four-pitch strikeouts to start and end it.  The Tribe went down in order in the third thanks to another four-pitch strike.  Same thing in the fourth, his most efficient inning at nine pitches.  No strikeout, but same thing in the fifth, his second-most efficient inning, along with the second inning, during both of which he threw eleven pitches.  He peaked in the sixth at twenty-seven pitches, not coincidentally when he finally got in trouble.  After securing the first two outs via a popup and his seventh strikeout, he gave up a double followed by a four-pitch walk.  He induced a groundout to end it, but he was done after that.

Meanwhile, the offense stayed pretty busy.  Even when we didn’t score in the second, we still put two men on base.  We opened the third by putting two men on base again; this time Gonzalez delivered to bring in one on a single.  With one out in the fourth, Crawford hit his second home run of the series, a solo shot on a low breaking ball he launched into the seats in right field.  At that point, he was one triple shy of the cycle.  He never did hit that triple.  He doubled again in the sixth, though.

But before he doubled again in the sixth, Papi hit a solo shot to lead it off.  Different pitch, same place.  There was no way that ball wasn’t going out.  But it got even better.  Lowrie walked after that, then the double by Crawford, and then, if you thought Papi’s home run was a monster shot, you should have seen Salty’s.  Slightly different location, same pitch: the inside fastballs.  Clearly not a pitch they should have been throwing to lefties yesterday.  And even after that, the inning still wasn’t over.  Cameron doubled and came home on a double by Ellsbury.  The inning ended after that, and we didn’t score again for the rest of the game.

Except that by that time, even with the two runs the Tribe scored off of Morales in the eighth, who had come on for Wheeler, who had pitched the seventh, we had scored enough runs to win even if Morales had given up eleven more.  Atchison pitched the ninth.  Clearly this was not a save situation.  The final score was 14-2.

The only member of the starting lineup who didn’t get a hit was Lowrie, who still managed to score two runs.  The remaining eight members of the lineup not only got a hit but each posted multi-hit games.  Pedroia, Papi, and Gonzalez all went two for six (Pedroia would have gone three for seven had Kearns not robbed him of an extra-base RBI hit in the third); Cameron and Salty both went two for four; Sutton went three for five; Ellsbury went three for four; and the best performer of the night, Crawford, was perfect at the plate.  Four for four.  With two doubles, a homer, three runs, and two RBIs.  We put up a seven-spot in the first and a five-spot in the sixth.  That means that it only took us two innings to score twelve runs, and in the first six innings, we didn’t score in only two of them.  We collected a grand total of twenty hits, six of them doubles and four of them home runs, the fourth time in franchise history that we’ve posted at least those totals in a single game.  We left nine on base, and we went eight for a whopping twenty with runners in scoring position.  Lester picked up the win for his seventh of the year, which leads the Majors.  We’ve won ten of our last twelve games, and we’re half a game out of first place.  Bring it, Detroit.  Bring it.

In other news, the Bruins lost, 5-4.  On the bright side, we’re going back home.  It’s our last chance.  It’s time to finish this.

Reuters Photo

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