Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Twins’

When was the last time you experienced a three-hour rain delay? You could fit an entire baseball game into that period of time.  Wow.  That’s what I call a delay.  But it was a great game, and I’m glad we got to see it through to the end.  Not that we had anything to lose if we hadn’t been able to do so.  We won after nine, and we would have won after seven-plus.

Middlebrooks scored the game’s first run when he went yard in the second.  He got a slider and then three straight changeups; the last one ended up, like Saturday’s home runs, beyond the fence in right center field.  Quite the powerful and positive note to start on.

With one out in the next frame, Victorino walked, moved to third on a single by Gomes, and scored on a force attempt by Pedroia.  That was a gift.  That ball was a double play waiting to happen, but an exceptionally aberrant throw put it in the outfield.  With one out in the fifth, Pedroia, Papi, and Napoli hit back-to-back-to-back singles, scoring another run.  Nava actually made it back-to-back-to-back-to-back, but no further runs scored, and Middlebrooks and Salty provided two quick outs, Salty grounding out on only one pitch.

We scored the game’s last two runs in the ninth, the only inning during which we scored more than one run.  With one out, Gomes walked, and then Pedroia went yard on a fastball, the third one of that at-bat and the fourth pitch overall.  This time, the ball went beyond the fence in left field; I guess it’s good to have some variety.  Either way, it was two runs on one swing.

Lackey had himself a great start in the meantime.  His first four innings were literally perfect; he didn’t give up any hits or issue any walks.  But his third pitch of the fifth was hit for a double, and then he hit a batter, got a strikeout, and a run scored on a force out.  But at least we got an out out of it.  The inning then ended on a groundout.  He then threw a perfect sixth.  So it was just the fifth that was problematic, and even the fifth wasn’t that problematic, if you think about it.  He only allowed one run, and it wasn’t even earned, because the only reason why the runner advanced to first on the force out was because Ciriaco made a throwing error.  In the end, that double was his only hit.  And he pitched through six rather than five, so it was definitely a quality start, and I’d say it’s a start we can be proud of.

In total, Lackey threw eighty-four pitches and probably would have pitched even longer had it not been for the rain delay.  He ended up striking out five and, of course, didn’t walk anyone.

Miller pitched a perfect seventh, and Uehara gave up a double, a walk, and a single to load the bases with two out but pitched himself out of it, ending the eighth unscathed.  Tazawa pitched an almost-perfect ninth, giving up a single but no runs.

The final score was 5-1.  It turns out that none of our runs were scored with nobody out, but I’m glad we’ve shown that we can handle the pressure.  By the way, we just swept.

In other news, we find ourselves up in the series, two-zip; the B’s took the second game from the Rangers, 5-2!

Boston Herald Staff

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Confidence is the key.  Feeling confident and channeling that confidence into finding a groove is how to get out of a slump.  We’re not necessarily out of the woods yet, but we’re taking positive steps to get there.  We’ve had some nailbiter wins recently; it’s nice to to back to coming out on top and then staying on top.  It felt easy and effortless last night, like we started the season that way and never stopped.  Here’s to keeping that going.

Ellsbury singled on the game’s third; one out later, Pedroia walked, and Papi worked the count 2-2 thanks to two balls and two fouls.  He got a curveball he could hit, and he hit it.  He sent the ball beyond the fence in right center field for a three-run shot, just like that.

We went down in order in the second; Middlebrooks singled, but it didn’t matter thanks to Lavarnway’s double play.  Gomes walked in the third and scored on a single by Papi.  Middlebrooks’s walk was our only damage in the fourth.

Dempster gave up five runs on eight hits while walking six and striking out two over the course of four and two-thirds innings.  So, on average, he gave up more than one walk, one hit, and one run every inning.  That is not what I call a good start.

He issued two consecutive walks to lead off the second; both runners advanced on a groundout, and a force out was successfully converted at home.  But he gave up a single that scored his first run right after that.  He was able to pitch himself out of a bases-loaded situation in the third.  He gave up another run thanks to a double-single combination.

He ran into real trouble in the fifth.  He gave up a double that turned into a run two groundouts later.  He issued a walk that turned into a double thanks to a steal, and the runner scored on a single.  That first base-steal-single-run sequence then repeated itself.  And that was when Mortensen came in, gave up a single, and ended the inning.

Dempster was lucky that we scored three runs of our own in the top of the frame.  Gomes and Pedroia hit back-to-back doubles, scoring one run.  Papi grounded out, which moved Pedroia to third, and Napoli’s walk put runners at the corners.  Nava’s sac fly brought Pedroia home, Middlebrooks’s single moved Napoli to second, and he scored on a single by Lavarnway, who was thrown out at third.

So each team had scored three runs in the fifth inning alone.  Even if we hadn’t scored again for the rest of the game, and provided that the Twins didn’t either, we would have won.  Each team had scored in two other innings before the fifth; the Twins had scored two prior runs, but we had scored four, so we were already on top.  It stayed that way in the sixth; neither team scored, thanks in the bottom of the inning to the combined efforts of Mortensen and Breslow.

We blew the game wide open in the seventh.  Pedroia walked to lead it off, and after working the count 2-1, Papi had himself a multi-homer game! He hit the ball again beyond the fence in right center field, again with at least one man on base.  It was a fine piece of hitting.  And it was made even better when Nava went back-to-back.  The Twins made a pitching change that did no good; Nava hit a solo shot in the very next at-bat.  His ball also ended up beyond the fence in right center field.  I love back-to-back jacks; it’s so much fun reveling in the fact that, at first, you think it’s just a replay until you realize that we actually powered our way through.

So that was another four runs right there, and Breslow kept the lid on the Twins in the bottom of the inning.  We went down in order in the eighth, and Wilson did a fine job.  It looked like we might get yet another rally going in the ninth when Papi and Napoli worked back-to-back walks and Nava singled to load the bases with nobody out.  Middlebrooks struck out, and Papi did score on a sac fly by Lavarnway; I guess we weren’t finished quite yet.  The bottom of the inning was pretty uneventful.

So we ended up winning, 12-5.  It was a slugfest, all right, and we buried the Twins with our massive power.  Both teams had an almost equivalent number of hits and walks, but our hitters were better at taking advantage of our opportunities, and our pitchers were better at closing the deal; we’ve seen recently the effects that that can have first-hand.  That’s basically all there is to it.

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We are recently masters of the difficult win.  We come from behind, we come back at the last minute, we barely eke it out.  But I’m proud of our slow-but-steady-and-successful showing of late; it’s the kind of confidence-building that we need to get ourselves back on track.  So this is a good sign; eventually we’ll be back to winning freely and easily.

Nava singled in the first and scored on a single by Papi.  We walked in each of the following three innings; in the fourth, the walk came after a single, but we didn’t capitalize on that opportunity.

Buchholz made a mistake in the third.  I suppose that he made two mistakes.  He gave up a double to lead off the inning and, one out later, he threw a bad curveball that missed.  How often this year have you seen Buchholz fire off a bad curveball and miss his spot? It’s a rare sight indeed.  I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw it.  But it was hit for a two-run home run.  He then issued two consecutive walks in the fourth but didn’t give up any runs; still, the sight of him issuing any walks, much less two in a row, was quite foreign.

As if that weren’t enough, he gave up two singles and a walk in the fifth, loading the bases with one out.  He pitched himself out of it thanks to a strikeout and a flyout.  But I can’t remember the last time he was in a bases-loaded situation.

Fortunately, it was smooth sailing after that, and Buchholz was back to his old self.  Also fortunately, we were able to tie the game at two in the seventh; Gomes walked, and when Ellsbury singled, it was deflected, and Gomes scored.

Drew doubled and Gomes walked in the eighth, but we didn’t score; Miller came in and held down the fort.  We went down in order in the ninth; Miller and Wilson combined to preserve the tie.

And then something wonderful happened.  For the third time in as many games, we were patient and resilient, and we came from behind.  And it was sweet.  We didn’t play well at all the last time we faced the Twins, but revenge is a dish best served cold, even in the month of May.  Pedroia singled, Papi walked, and Ciriaco came in to pinch-run for him.  Both runners advanced on Middlebrooks’s sac fly, and Drew loaded the bases thanks to an intentional walk.

The stage was set for another grand slam, or even another bases-clearing double.  But it seems like each come-from-behind win is more humble than the last.  Gomes was at the plate; he took a slider in the dirt and fouled off a fastball.  Then he got another slider, and he lofted it to center field.  It was obviously going to be an out.  But it was hit deep enough that Pedroia was able to come home.  One run on a sac fly in the tenth inning decided the game.

Uehara had a one-two-three tenth, and the final score was 3-2.  Buchholz’s final line featured seven innings, two runs on four hits, three walks, and nine K’s.  We totaled ten hits and walked a whopping seven times.  But Drew’s double was our only extra-base hit, and we went two for ten with runners in scoring position and left eleven on base.  In contrast, Minnesota was held to only four hits.  Throughout the game, we had one on base here, one or two on base there.  We just failed to close the deal and score; had we made good on all of our opportunities, we would have won the game long before the ninth inning rolled around.  Either way, though, we won; at least we’re getting on base again.

Boston Globe Staff

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We really are in the middle of quite the slump.  This team looks completely different from the one that had the best record in the Majors.  Our record is now 22-16; if we continue at our current rate, we’ll have to start winning just to stay at .500, and we all remember what that feels like.  We got swept by the Rangers; at least, at the time, we felt like the Rangers were a good match.  But Minnesota’s pitching staff has one of the lowest strikeout counts in the Majors, and Toronto’s pitchers are mediocre at best and their hitters swing at almost anything.  We are losing games we should not be losing.  Not that there’s ever a game that we should lose, but still.  Speaking of the Jays specifically, it would have been very nice to escape the series without allowing them to hit a slew of home runs.  Sure, we hadn’t been able to win by doing that, but at least we, for the most part, eliminated their chief mode of attack.

Dempster was not so fortunate.  He didn’t keep the ball down.  His heat is more lukewarm than anything else, so you can see why location would have been the key to a successful performance on his part.  He lasted only five innings and gave up six runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out three.  And he allowed three home runs.

It started in the second.  He gave up a single, a double, and a three-run home run with two out.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the third, and he issued a walk and then allowed a two-run home run in the fourth.  It would have been worse had Victorino gotten hurt trying to haul the ball in for an out.  He tried to catch it right at the bullpen fence but fell flat-out; he left the game in the seventh with some stiffness.  Dempster gave up another solo shot in the fifth.  On a splitter.  If Dempster is anything, he’s a splitter pitcher, so the fact that he missed his spot with a splitter says something.  Dempster, overall, has been pitching very well, at least for him.  But, yes, all of his runs scored via the long ball, which is exactly how the Jays like it.

Miller came on for the sixth and gave up a solo shot on his third pitch.  After recording the inning’s first out, he gave up a single, issued a walk, and was replaced by Mortensen.  Mortensen gave up a successful sac fly followed by a two-run home run.  He had a one-two-three seventh, and Breslow had a one-two-three eighth, making him our only pitcher to not allow any runs in the game.  Jose De La Torre came in for the ninth and gave up a double, a walk, an RBI single, and an RBI double play.

All in all, that’s twelve runs.  By the time we got on the board in the fourth, we were already down by five.  Napoli answered the Jays’ power with his own, smashing a solo shot on the second pitch of his leadoff at-bat in the fourth.  And he hit it to one of the deepest parts of the park.  It was a nice piece of hitting; if only such a phenomenon were more common for us.

We didn’t score again until the sixth, when Pedroia singled and scored on a sac fly by Nava.  We went down in order in the seventh, and then Ciriaco hit a home run.  It was also a solo shot, and he also led off an inning.  It was the second pitch of his at-bat, also a fastball.  But he hit his beyond the Monster.  Either way, it was still also a nice piece of hitting that we also could have used more of.

Then Pedroia flied out, and Napoli singled, Nava walked, and Gomes got hit.  Just like that, the bases were loaded.  It was Salty’s turn to bat, but a force out was all he could muster; Napoli scored our last run of the game.  Napoli went three for four; the only other person to have a multi-hit game was Pedroia, who went two for five.  Napoli alone scored half of our runs.

So the Jays finally got what they wanted: a win via the long ball.  Dempster, a single pitcher, accounted for half the runs they scored, while the relief corps divided the other half among themselves.  The final score was 12-4; we scored less than half the number of runs that Toronto scored.  We left eight on base and were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, so our dismal streak of being completely ineffective in situations when we need effectiveness most continues.  Dempster took the loss, but it was a team effort.

In other news, the Bruins got shut out by the Leafs, two-zip.  So it all comes down to tonight.

Boston Globe Staff

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Wow.  I was hoping, at the very least, for a series split.  We got even less than that.  Even Lackey’s performance wasn’t that much of a silver lining.

Lackey had a one-two-three first and second.  He gave up a single in the third and fourth.  He gave up a triple followed by an RBI double.  Obviously, through five, Lackey had himself a pretty smooth sail.  The sixth was when he ran into some trouple.  He gave up a single, recorded the first out with a flyout, and issued a walk.  Then he committed a throwing error that scored one run, gave up a successful sac fly that scored another, and then gave up a two-run home run that scored two more.

He settled back down after that.  He had a one-two-three seventh.  In total, Lackey pitched seven innings.  He walked one, struck out eight, and gave up six hits and five runs, but only one of those was earned.  Except that Lackey was the one who made the error.  So, if you think about it, the runs may as well have been earned.  Run-wise, the start wasn’t great.  Everything-else-wise, the start was pretty great.

Uehara pitched a truly beautiful eighth.  Breslow would have pitched a truly beautiful ninth if Middlebrooks hadn’t spoiled the one-two-three progression by allowing a runner to reach on an error.

Victorino singled in the first.  Middlebrooks doubled in the second.  Finally, it bore fruit; Victorino double and scored on a single by Pedroia.  Nava singled in the fourth, moved to second on a grounder by Middlebrooks, and scored on a single by Drew.  Pedroia singled in the fifth.  Fortunately, we matched the Twins’ sixth-inning rally with one of our own; unfortunately, it wasn’t as significant.  Napoli doubled to lead it off and scored on a single by Nava.

Pedroia walked in the seventh.  Nava walked and Middlebrooks reached on a fielding error in the eighth.  Ellsbury walked in the ninth.

We lost, 5-3.  We lost the game, and we lost the series.  It’s like we were an entirely different team out there.

AP Photo

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