Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee Brewers’

That’s the funny thing about the World Series.  We spend the entirety of a long season trying to win it, and then we do win it, and then it’s over.  And then it’s suddenly back to business as usual, trying to do the things that will make it possible for us to win it again.

We acquired righty Burke Badenhop from the Brewers.  Basically, he’s a workhorse in the bullpen, so he’ll add some nice depth and dependability, especially down the stretch.  So far, we’ve shown interest in Corey Hart and Carlos Beltran, and supposedly we’re keeping an open mind as far as alternative options behind the plate are concerned.  Pedroia won an incredibly well-deserved Heart and Hustle Award.

In other news, the B’s beat the Canes, 4-1, and Rangers, 2-1.  We also lost to the Blues, 3-2, in a shootout but beat the Canes again yesterday, 3-2.  The Pats dropped a nailbiter to the Panthers, 24-20.

Gammons Daily

Read Full Post »

While Theo is busy taking kudos in Chicago, we still don’t have any news on his compensation, but life goes on.  Eight members of the team filed for free agency; none of the filings are surprising: Conor Jackson, Trever Miller, Bedard, Drew, Wake, Tek, Papi, and Paps.  Okay, maybe I was surprised that Drew chose to file instead of retire.  But everyone knew the rest of them were going to be filing.

Obviously there’s been a lot of talk about whether to keep Papi and Paps on board.  The difficulty with Papi is that he’ll want more money for more years, although his recent performance, certainly in the last season, suggests that that’s warranted.  Paps wants more money.  Like, a lot more money.  You might say we can afford to lose him because we have Bard, but I have a feeling that you won’t know how valuable it was having Bard as a closer-esque setup man packing that one-two punch with Paps unless Paps were to leave and then you’d be fishing around for an eighth inning guy as good as all that.  Trust me, it wouldn’t be Jenks, folks.

As far as Wake and Tek go, we don’t have much to lose by keeping them.  Their market value is relatively low as it is; it’s not like they can leverage high demand to induce a bigger deal from us.  Tek’s powers of leadership are here with this team; it’s unclear how valuable he’d be in another clubhouse since that was always his main contributor anyway, especially in recent years when his plate production has markedly decreased, although it is worth noting that he seemed to share in Tito’s experience of having his leadership be less effective this past year.  Either that or he pulled back on his leadership.  Either way, the results were the results; how much that had to do with Tek is unclear.  Regarding Wake, he’s still an effective pitcher, more so in the bullpen now than as a starter; I guess age does eventually take its toll even on a knuckleballer.  So Wake will have to figure out if he’d be satisfied as a reliever.  Ben, like Theo, will be unlikely to dish out coin if he’s not absolutely sure that he’s paying for the player’s worth alone; if Ben is interested in retaining Wake as a reliever but Wake wants to start and demands a starter’s salary, that could potentially be a problem.

Speaking of Ben, apparently he graduated from Lebanon High School in 1992, so the school has reportedly posted a sign out front that says, “Congratulations Ben Cherington Class of ’92 Free Tickets?” Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Jackson, Miller, and Bedard were late-season playoff fixes that we obviously didn’t end up needing.  The decision of whether to retain them doesn’t strike me as epically impactful, although given the fact that we’re technically short a starter now, Bedard may make sense if there’s no one better out there.

We picked up Scutaro’s option, probably as insurance until Jose Iglesias is ready to permanently assume the starter’s role.  We declined options on Wheeler and Atchison.

Congratulations to Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Pedroia on their Gold Gloves! And congratulations to Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Papi on their Silver Sluggers! All very well deserved; I can’t think of anyone who deserved them more.  Finally, congratulations to Luis Tiant for landing on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.  It’s about time!

Lackey had his Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.  Supposedly it went well.

This week, the managerial interviews began.  First up was Phillies hitting coach Pete Mackanin.  Then we had Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, our former third base coach.  We’ve got Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and Cleveland bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr.  Of those four, Mackanin and Maddux would obviously be preferable, which is why Theo is interviewing them also.

Add to our growing list of vacancies a strength and conditioning coach and an assistant athletic trainer.  Apparently we fired Dave Page and Greg Barajas.

Also worth noting is the fact that the Mets will construct a few walls in Citi Field for the explicit purpose of decreasing the size of the field.  Among those walls will be an eight-foot installment in front of the sixteen-foot Great Wall of Flushing, between which will be built a new section of seats a la the Green Monster.  As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the most blatant agenda-pushing moves I’ve ever seen.  So they constructed an enormous ballpark that is forcing well-paid power hitters, like David Wright and, oh, yeah, Jason Bay, to struggle.  Big deal.  You don’t see any other ballclub undergoing offseason construction to shrink the field size just to increase home run production to make more money.  That is ridiculous, and I’m surprised that it’s being allowed.  Maybe Bud Selig is considering it yet another step forward toward making baseball even more popular; we all know how much he praises the home run as a tool to accomplish that.  But still.  I can’t believe this is flying under the radar.

In other news, the Pats lost to the Steelers, 25-17.  Before the season started, I think we all picked that one as a possible loss.  At least the score was respectable.  The Bruins scored a ton of goals this week.  We beat the Sens, 5-3, and then we absolutely buried the Leafs, 7-0.  Tyler Seguin posted his first-ever NHL hat trick en route.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

Read Full Post »

Well, we’re more or less right back to where we started.  We’re only half a game out of first place.  This past two-week stretch didn’t go nearly as well as I’d hoped; I thought that Interleague would power us way past the Yanks for good.  Apparently not.  But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s recap.

After we swept the Yankees, we played the Jays, who we also swept before heading into a day off.  We won the first game by a score of 5-1; Buchholz pitched a stellar outing and the first third of the lineup delivered in a big way.  We absolutely crushed them the following day, 16-4; Lackey’s mediocrity didn’t matter in the face of eighteen hits, five of which were for extra bases and two of which were three-run homers, one each for Tek and Papi.  The 14-1 series closer was just as decisive; Lester pitched eight innings of one-run ball, and we hit six doubles and four homers.

We completely failed to carry any of that momentum into our series opener with the Rays; if only we could have transferred some runs from those games to that one.  We were shut out, four-zip.  Beckett returned the following day to pitch a complete-game shutout, his finest performance of the season, hands down.  In fact, take away a ridiculous and nonsensical hit down the third-base line that was barely a hit at all, and he’d have had a perfect game.  Not a no-hitter.  A perfect game.  He did not issue a single walk during those nine innings.  He was absolutely remarkably brilliant.  It was the first one-hitter of his career, and in retrospect, that was one of the most infuriating hits I have ever witnessed in my entire baseball-watching life.  I really can’t stress that enough.  We ended up winning the series; Buchholz pitched a short but ultimately sweet five innings, and our four runs were enough to handle the Rays’ two.

We then went home to take on the Brewers.  We crushed, 10-4; Lackey, Gonzalez, and Papi delivered solid performances.  We lost the next day, 4-2; Lester just didn’t have it.  But we crushed in the rubber game, scoring four times as many runs to win it, 12-3; Wake pitched masterfully for eight innings.

Then the Padres came by and we crushed again, 14-5.  Andrew Miller started that one; he didn’t pick up the win, but he did have some flashes of brilliance.  We lost the series by dropping the last two.  First, we lost, 5-4; Aceves didn’t have it.  Then, we lost, 5-1; Lackey really didn’t have it.  He didn’t even make it through the fourth.

Then we had another off day, and we are now in Pittsburgh playing the Pirates.  On Friday, we lost again, 3-1.  Lester didn’t have it, and the lineup was obviously out of whack due to the fact that we were in a National League park, so the pitchers had to hit.  On Saturday, we lost again, 6-4, despite three long balls.  Thankfully we preserved a shred of dignity on Sunday with a win, 4-2, to close out the series.  Miller pitched decently, and we only had one extra-base hit; naturally it helped that the Pirates made four errors, since all but one of our runs were unearned.

Youk and Beckett got sick.  Drew has a bruised left eye.  Lowrie, Crawford, and Buchholz hit the DL.  Jenks is still on it.  Paps was given a two-game suspension as the resolution of the brawl earlier this month.  Gonzalez tallied his one thousandth career hit, a triple against the Brewers.  Ellsbury garnered American League Player of the Week honors.  Our nine-game hitting streak that ended with our series opener with the Rays was the longest winning streak in the Major Leagues to date.

When we won, we played really, really well.  It’s just that we shouldn’t have lost to those Interleague teams.  The health issues are concerning, but the best you can do is hope they’ll end quickly so that everything can return to normal and we can get back to steamrolling over the opposition.  Right now, we’re in a good place.  I don’t think we’ll be phased by any amount of health issues after what happened last year.  Would I have liked to head into Interleague firing on all cylinders? Obviously.  But at least we’d been playing easier teams.  Now, though, we’ve got the Phillies.  That series will obviously be pitched as a World Series preview.  More importantly, we’re just going to have to keep our heads down and play our game.  You have to win first in order to get to October.

In other news, for the first time since 1972, the Boston Bruins have brought the Stanley Cup to what with this championship has truly become, in every sense and on every front, Title Town.  On June 15, 2011, down to Game Seven, the Boston Bruins became the champions of the entire National Hockey League.  The final score was 4-0.  A thirty-seven-save shutout by Tim Thomas, winner of the 2011 Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophies.  Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored two goals, the last of which was an empty-netter.  There was a victory parade.  There was an appearance on the Today Show and at Fenway Park.  But it really started to sink in when Zdeno Chara, winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award, hoisted the cup.  He picked it up like it weighed nothing, and you knew every single Boston fan could see it, and not because he’s so tall.  To see that cup being held by a Bruin in Vancouver was just incredible.  It was at once unbelievable and thoroughly believable.  The glory-basking is epic.  It was one of the greatest moments in any Boston sports fan’s Boston sports life.  Congratulations to the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins! Welcome home to Title Town!

Getty Images

Read Full Post »

Congratulations to Beltre for winning a Silver Slugger! He most definitely deserved it.  I wish I could say the same for Vlad Guerrero, who won it instead of Big Papi, which is ridiculous.  Guerrero hit .300 with twenty-nine homers, 115 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .496.  Sounds great.  Until you consider the fact that he only hit nine homers after the All-Star break and posted a measly OPS of .748.  Papi hit thirty-two homers and posted a slugging percentage of .529 and OPS of .899.  Notice that all of Papi’s numbers are higher than Vlad’s.  Theoretically, this should result in his fifth Silver Slugger at DH, but for some absurd and unknown reason, it didn’t.  He and Josh Beckett can commiserate this offseason, because that’s just not right.

Pedroia’s rehab is progressing ahead of schedule.  I’m not surprised by that.  I am relieved, not just for the team and for Red Sox Nation but also for Pedroia, who’s been itching to play for months now.

Ladies and gentlemen, the stove is finally starting to heat up.  Finally.  We have confirmed official contact with Werth’s agent.  We are supposedly interested in Zack Greinke and Justin Duchsherer.  We have statements from Theo about his commitment to re-sign Beltre and V-Mart, with the obvious emphasis on V-Mart.  Meanwhile, Peter Gammons is convinced that Theo is going to move on without V-Mart because he says the Sox are sure Salty can handle the job.  I’m going to take Theo’s word on this instead.

Perhaps the ultimate free agent, or at least the one everyone’s talking about these days, is Cliff Lee.  Everyone thought Lee is going to be a Yankee for sure.  Nothing would please me less, but I don’t think that’s as likely as people think.  He’s thirty-two years old, and if New York decides to give him a Sabathia-like contract with heaps of money and, less intelligently, heaps of years, I will lose negative respect for their organization, because trust me, there isn’t any there to begin with now.  My next guess would be the Angels, but they’ve already set their sights on Carl Crawford, although that could change since the Giants proved that, yes, you can win with pitching.  (Which only confirms the fact that we’re going to win the World Series this year, by the way.  Just sayin’.) Detroit could be an option since they’ve made payroll room.  The most likely competitor for New York right now appears to be the Rangers, who are in hot pursuit, and offers could come in from the Phillies and Brewers as well.

The Mets won’t spend this offseason, the Cubs want youth, the Reds are in the process of offering Arroyo an extension, and I’m so sorry to say this, but I don’t think we’re going to be in the mix for this one.  A sizeable chunk of our payroll is currently devoted to our starting rotation, and on top of that we just don’t have the space for Lee right now.  So it makes sense to leave him alone.  Otherwise, we basically wouldn’t be able to do anything else.  Lee is absolutely awesome, so again, it hurts to say so, but we’re making the right move here.

An interesting question to ask is whether the acquisition of Lackey kept us from Lee.  I think the answer would have to be yes, but I think we’ll get more bang for our buck with Lackey than we would have with Lee.  Lackey is a competitive workhorse.  He absorbs innings like a sponge.  We need a guy like that in there, especially if we’ve got another guy on whom you can’t necessarily depend to go deep.  (That would be Dice-K.) Lackey complements that, and that way the bullpen knows it’s going to have a light night for each overtime it works.  Depending on how this season goes, I’d be ready to say we made the right decision.  That’s the key right there.  Lee is a competitive workhorse too, and he also absorbs innings like a sponge.  But he won’t be absorbing anyone’s innings like anything unless they’re ready to fork over substantial coin and years.  Provided that my predictions about Lackey returning to top form his sophomore season come true, Lackey is the better option because he’ll probably end up being cheaper than both.  I have a feeling that Lee’s next contract is going to be huge.  So Lackey gives us more flexibility that way.  Sure, Lee arguably would be better, but like I said, if Lackey is back to his stellar self as of now, the difference in quality won’t be that large; meanwhile, we spend less money and don’t have to commit the better part of an entire decade.

We traded Dustin Richardson to the Marlins for Andrew Miller.  The Jays just hired PawSox manager Torey Lovullo as their new first base coach.  Our minor league infield coordinator, Gary DiSarcina, is now the assistant to the Angels’ general manager.  DeMarlo Hale will interview with the Mets for their managerial position.  The disadvantage of having a top-flight staff is that everyone wants a piece.  Hopefully for us, this goes nowhere.

In a spectacular combination of divine intervention and rational thought, ESPN will not renew the contracts of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.  Oh, happy day.  Twenty-one years of suffering through commentary that was anything but insightful and unbiased is officially over.  Dan Shulman will replace Miller.  At this point, anything is an improvement.

In other news, the Bruins started the week with a victory over the Penguins, 7-4.  Seven goals in a single game.  Wow.  Then we just had to lose to the Habs, 3-1.  Yesterday’s game didn’t bode too well either; the Sens shut us out, 2-0.  Those were not the same Senators we shut out, 4-0.  That was a completely different team.  On behalf of Bruins fans everywhere, I’d like to extend condolences to the family of Pat Burns, who coached us in the late ’90s.  Last Sunday, the Pats delivered one of the absolute worst performances I have ever had the misfortune of seeing.  We lost, 34-14, to none other than the Cleveland Browns.  The Cleveland Browns! I was seeing Super Bowl glory, and then all of a sudden we lost by twenty points to the Cleveland Browns? To make matters worse, Stephen Gostkowski will probably be out for two games with a quad strain.  The only silver lining I can possibly muster in this situation is that the Pats have a tendency to bounce back from big losses in a big way.  Right on time for us to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Getty Images

Read Full Post »

We celebrated another anniversary this week, also epic, also on a Wednesday.  Six years ago this past Wednesday, we won Game Four of the 2004 World Series.  We swept the Cardinals right out of St. Louis, broke the Curse of the Bambino, vindicated one Nation under Sox, and ushered in a new era of dominance by Boston baseball.  The ALCS victory was the greatest comeback in sports history, but the World Series was the greatest win in sports history, period.  Never gets tired, never gets old, and never gets forgotten.  I still get chills when I think about Foulke to Mientkiewicz.

Meanwhile, we have a problem.  It’s a huge problem.  Congratulations to John Farrell, the new manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.  He’ll be missed.  He’ll be sorely missed.  That’s our problem.  Let’s temporarily forget about the fact that Jays pitching is known to give us trouble in September.  More importantly and urgently, we now need a new pitching coach.  Let’s not kid ourselves; Farrell was awesome.  He was great.  He was one of the best pitching coaches you could possibly have asked for.  He knew the staff inside-out, and he’d worked previously with V-Mart.

We’re looking inside and outside.  So far, we’ve interviewed former A’s pitching coach Curt Young.  We’re going to interview Ralph Truel, our minor league pitching coordinator, and Major League advance scout Mike Cather this week.  We also might be looking at Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson, who worked with Tito when he was in Oakland.  At this point, whether the guy comes from the outside or the inside is not the issue.  The guy just has to be good.  Only two of our starters are home-grown, so it’s not like Truel would have that much of an edge over the other three.  The guy also has to be hired as soon as possible so he can start, because he’s got a lot of work to do.

The front office will also be busy, and not just because the stove is about to get hot.  A new agreement between the players’ union and the owners has shortened the free agent exclusivity period from fifteen to five days after the conclusion of the World Series.  That moves up the deadline for teams to offer arbitration by about a week, and so has the deadline for players to accept.  The tender deadline has moved up by at least a week.  I have faith that Theo is totally on top of his game.  I’m just saying that, with our own, we’re going to have to act fast.  Five days.  That’s, like, no time at all.  So we need to get moving.  We’re also going to have to be very shrewd in managing our payroll so it doesn’t get out of hand.

Congratulations to Wakefield, who won the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award for his community service.  He does it all, from local hospitals to the Jimmy Fund to Wakefield’s Warriors, where he invites children from the Franciscan Hospital and the Jimmy Fund to Tuesday home games to meet him and watch batting practice.  If you ask me, he’s been due for a long time now.  This was his eighth nomination.  But, ultimately, he gets exactly what he deserves.  Nobody deserves that award more than he does because, not only does he do a lot in the community, he does all of it quietly and without any thought about recognition for it.

Peter Gammons is convinced it’s going to be Carl Crawford, not Jayson Werth.  Papi wants an extension rather than just an option pick-up; no surprise there.

Good news: ticket prices will basically stay the same for 2011.  Bad news: it doesn’t matter much since most of us don’t purchase our tickets at face value anyway.

Other news: we shut out the Leafs on Thursday, two-zip.  Thomas made twenty saves.  Then we shut out the Sens yesterday, four-zip.  Krejci had a goal and an assist, and Thomas made twenty-nine saves.  Love it.  And the Pats beat the Chargers with the same final score we used to beat the Ravens: 23-20.  It was close, but it was still a win.  We’ve got the Vikings today.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »

Last night was another “wow” contest.  That’s two in a row! Can you believe it? We are now officially on a three-game winning streak, and even though the season is winding down, we’re starting to climb back up. We’re now seven games out of first place.  Hey, it’s an improvement over nine.  All I’m saying is that you never know.

If the standings situation is a long shot, we made a statement to the contrary last night via the long ball.  We won, 9-6, so it wasn’t a true slugfest because the score wasn’t that lopsided, but scoring nine runs in a single game is a big deal for us.  We’ve struggled throughout the season to string hits as well as wins together; last night we did both.

It all started in the second when Lowrie clobbered a home run to left with Papi on base.  It was a changeup inside on a 2-1 count to make up for Beltre being thrown out at the plate.  The ball left the field in a hurry.  But Lowrie was just getting warmed up.  You look at the kid and power isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but this season he just added the art and science of home-run hitting to his arsenal of talent.

V-Mart hit an RBI single in the third, and Lowrie hit a solo shot to the same place in the third, but this time it was a fastball down the middle in a pitcher’s count.  This was his first multi-homer game ever.  I’m telling you, I don’t really know where that power comes from, but if you got it, rock it.

We didn’t score again until the eighth, but when we did, it was huge.  Big Papi, ladies and gentlemen! It was a far cry from the sixth, when he snapped his bat over his knee because he turned a prime pitch into a weak popup.  With two out and two on, he absolutely avenged himself on a ninety-six mile-per-hour fastball to the point where you knew the ball was out just by the sound of the ball-bat contact.  Ichiro just watched it.  That was his thirtieth home run of the year, making 2010 his sixth thirty-homer season with us, his first since 2007, tying him with Manny Ramirez on the franchise all-time list.  Ted Williams obviously leads with eight thirty-plus seasons.  It was ridiculous.  It was almost like the ball left the park of its own free will.

In the ninth, we added two for insurance; Patterson scored on a fielder’s choice and Reddick hit an RBI single.  Figgins hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, but it did not matter.  We had it locked.

V-Mart, Papi, and Lowrie all went two for four; Beltre went three for four.  Patterson and Kalish each stole bases.  And this was the first time since June 30 that our starting lineup included our captain.  Tek went 0 for 3 with a walk, but he threw out Figgins twice.  It’s so good to have him back.  And I don’t think it’s necessarily a coincidence that the team has been playing well of light right when the captain has returned.

When I saw we had it locked, I’m referring exclusively to the offense.  Dice-K most definitely did not have anything locked.  He left the game so unlocked, he practically invited a theft of the win.  Luckily, the offense provided ample insurance just in case, but it’s like I always say: that kind of thing should not be necessary.  If the offense scores a lot of runs, the game should end with a lopsided score because a good starting pitcher should always be able to win a game with three runs or less.  Dice-K didn’t do that.  He lasted six innings, gave up five runs on eight hits, walked four, and struck out three.  He helped Seattle snap their streak of scoring at most three runs in their last sixteen home games.  He gave up at least four earned runs for the sixth consecutive start.  He threw 105 pitches.  He relied on a great cutter, curveball, and fastball.  He mixed in a decent changeup and slider.  He ran into all kinds of trouble in half of his innings.  His best inning by far was the fourth, during which he only fired nine pitches.  But then he went right back and allowed two runs an inning later.  His release point was tight and his strike zone was packed, but he couldn’t hold the lead.

The bullpen also was not helpful.  Tito replaced Dice-K in the seventh with Okajima with Bowden with Hill, and you only stopped hanging onto the edge of your seat when Bard came on.  Hill got the win, Bard got a hold, and Paps gave us a scare when he allowed that run in the ninth but finally the game was over and we walked off with the W intact.  But this is what I mean.  None of that should have been necessary.  There should be absolutely no reason whatsoever for anyone to be concerned when your team scores nine runs.  That should be a blowout, and if it’s not, the pitchers need a talking-to.

Drew will probably be back on Wednesday.

We got the win.  We inched up in the standings.  We believe.  And we look forward to the future.  Like tonight, when Buchholz is undoubtedly going to unleash a world of dominance for the sweep.  And like next year.  Next year’s schedule is out! We’re starting the season on April 1, unfortunately with a six-game road trip.  But the home opener is on a Friday, April 8, against the Yanks, followed by Tampa Bay, so that should be a blast.  We’ve got three days off in April before heading into a grueling May, which is mostly at home but with only one day off.  June will include our second trip to the Bronx with five days off as well as some good Interleague action; the Brewers and Padres will come to town, and we’ll visit the Pirates and Phillies.  We finish Interleague in Houston in July before a homestand leads us into the All-Star break, the game being in Phoenix this year.  We start things up again with a road trip followed by an easy homestand against Seattle and Kansas City.  In August, the Yankees will come to town twice and Tampa Bay once.  In September, we’ll face Tampa Bay away and at home, we’ll go to New York one more time, and we’ll finish the season on the road in Baltimore, the last game on September 28.  So some easy, some not so easy, but all in all it looks like a really good schedule.  We’ll see a lot of action in the AL East, so we’ll have chances to make dents directly.  We definitely have something to look forward to here.  In 2006, half the team fell apart, we didn’t even make the playoffs, we suffered through a winter during which everyone wondered when we’d next win the World Series, and lo and behold the very next year we were the best team in baseball.  So you have to figure that if the injuries this year were even worse than in 2006, next year we’ll be even stronger than we were in 2007.

Getty Images

Read Full Post »

And there you have the cushion! Incredible! We’re getting everything we need right now.  That’s good.  We’re playing .600 ball.  That’s first in the American League and tied with Milwaukee for second in the Major Leagues.  (The Dodgers are playing .674 ball.) It may seem like it’s early in the year, and it is, but it’s still a crucial time.  The month and a half leading up to the All-Star break is very important because it sets the tone for the second half of the season.  And right now we’re doing a lot of good tone-setting.  The Jays lost their seventh straight yesterday, so they’re in third with New York in second by one game.  But I’m not worried.  They may be on a hot streak, but New York isn’t going anywhere.  They always do this; they have a bad season with a few hot streaks just to scare you.  Then they’ll have a great September and ruin a bunch of teams’ playoff hopes and either not get to the playoffs or get to the playoffs and peter out in the first round.

Anyway, Brad Penny pitched a great game.  Quality start after quality start.  I like it.  And what we didn’t know is that he was battling indigestion before, during, and after battling the Twins.  Apparently he was throwing up between innings in the bathroom.  That right there is a warrior.  That’s something you don’t see too often.  And through it all he pitched five and a third, gave up three runs on six hits, no walks, seven strikeouts.  That’s about his usual; five or six innings and three runs.  He threw about seventy percent strikes.  His OPP AVG with runners in scoring position is below .200.  And he continues to improve.  The bottom line is that if the Twins couldn’t get to him in those conditions, they weren’t going to get to him at all.  Ramirez and Okajima each collected holds, and Paps got the save after almost blowing it.  Joe Mauer pinch-hit for Mike Redmond in the bottom of the ninth and hit a two-run shot.  The final score was 6-5.  Honestly I’d love to be furious with Paps right now and I am but the thing is it never lasts.  You can’t be furious when you know well and good you’ll never find a better closer in all of Major League Baseball.

We again out-hit our opponents, 16-8.  Ellsbury went two for five and scored, extending his hitting streak to twenty games.  That’s a career high, and he’s batting around .330 during that streak.  He was picked off first and caught stealing second, and it was ugly.  The Twins had him beat bad in the third inning.  The ball was waiting for him.  Very unusual.  Pedroia the Destroyah went three for five and scored twice and has a hitting streak of his own for eight games, during which he’s batting over .400.  He’s batted around .500 over his last four games alone.  That’s a hot hitter.  Youk and Bay each went two for five with a run and two RBIs.  Bay continued his dominance with runners in scoring position and is currently batting something like .340 in that situation.  Based on the way Bay’s been playing, we have two priorities this season: first, win the World Series, and second, lock up Jason Bay for the long term, because he’s establishing himself as one of the best in the game and with today’s market it’s almost impossible to find someone that good for that price.  Lowell went four for five with an RBI.  Baldelli made an error but went two for four.  Bailey took Dickey deep in the eighth for a very powerfully hit solo home run.  So what all of this means is that the first six starting spots in the lineup had multi-hit games.  It was fantastic.  Basically, it was watching one of the best teams in the American League figure out that there’s one of the best, and then there’s the best.  And when you play the best, you probably won’t win.  Hey, it happens.  We’ve now got six straight wins over the Twins and three more games to go in the series.

Jed Lowrie teed off before the game yesterday.  He took fifteen swings from each side of the plate and said he felt better hitting from the right than from the left.  His rehab is still on schedule, and they’re not going to rush.  He should be back in a few weeks.  Clay Buchholz is 3-0 with Pawtucket and almost had himself a perfect game last night.  He took it into the ninth inning but then gave up a leadoff single.  But he retained his composure.  That says a lot, because as soon as a bid like that is broken up, the pitcher can unravel very easily and very quickly, and for a young pitcher to stay with it says something.  So it ended up being a one-hit shutout, and it was the first one-hitter Pawtucket’s had since Bartolo Colon’s combined outing on April 3, 2008.

It’ll be Lester at Nick Blackburn tonight.  Hopefully Lester will build on that outstanding start against the Jays.  That was the first classic Lester start we’ve seen so far, and I’d love to see more.  The kid is good.  There’s a reason why he, and not Santana, wears our letters.  (Of course the irony is that Santana was with Minnesota, and they were after either Lester or Ellsbury.  That wasn’t going to happen.) And as soon as he remembers for good what that reason is, it won’t be pleasant for the opposition.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »