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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.

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Boy, things against the Twins have gone from good to bad to worse.

Allen Webster started, and it was not pretty.  At no point did he possess even a modicum of command or control.  He struck out the first batter he faced but then issued two consecutive walks, an RBI double, a successful sac fly, and a two-run home run.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the second.  He then issued a walk, gave up a double, and got the inning’s first out.  After that came another successful sac fly and another RBI double.

John had no other choice.  He had to take Wilson out, but the bullpen has been overworked lately.  He didn’t have anyone else to turn to.  So he turned to a starter.  Doubront relieved Wilson, but he was not an improvement.  He issued a walk and gave up two singles and a double that resulted in four runs total.  Only one of those was inherited and therefore attributed to Wilson.

Doubront gave up a single in the third but no runs scored.  He wasn’t so lucky in the fourth.  He gave up two singles and a walk that loaded the bases.  He was fortunate to escape that jam with only one run scoring, which at least resulted from a double play.  He gave up a double to lead off the fifth; two outs later, he gave up an RBI single followed by another single and an RBI double.  Amazingly, he had a one-two-three sixth and gave up two singles after a runner got on base thanks to a throwing error by Ciriaco, all without allowing any runs in the seventh.

I suppose we tried our best to hold our own in this one.  It wasn’t a slugfest for us, but we did score a quantity of runs that I would deem sufficient to win any ballgame.  Any pitcher should be able to win with the number of runs that we scored, and the fact that we didn’t shows that the pitchers really dropped the ball this time.  Miller pitched the best inning of the game: the eighth, in which the Twins went down in order on three strikeouts, two swinging and one looking.  Tazawa came on for the ninth and ended the game similarly to how it started: with runs.  He gave up two consecutive singles and hit a batter to load the bases.  And then he gave up a successful sac fly.  Okay, so it was only one run, but still.

Ellsbury struck out to open the first, but Victorino and Pedroia then hit back-to-back singles.  Papi struck out, and Napoli walked to load the bases.  And then something really amazing happened.  It was something so beautiful and so rare that you need to watch replays of it to convince yourself that it really happened but also just to see it again.  Oh, man, it was awesome.  It was awesome, awesome, awesome.  Gomes stepped up to the plate and took a slider for a ball.  Then he got a four-seam at ninety miles per hour that he really, really liked.  He laid into it with all he had.  The ball sailed beyond the Monster, and Gomes sailed right into a mob waiting at home plate.  Ladies and gentlemen, Jonny Gomes hit a grand slam.

And then Salty doubled and scored on a single by Drew.  And that was the first inning.  We scored a grand total of five runs on two swings, and of course we scored four of those on only one swing.  I maintain that we should be able to win a game in which we hit a grand slam.  We deserve to win any game in which we hit a grand slam.  That’s the sad part.  We’d have had to score the equivalent of at least three grand slams to win this one.

With two out in the second, Victorino hit a solo shot.  The count was 2-0, and he got a four-seam that he liked as well, which he also hit beyond the Monster.

Other than that, Salty singled in the third, Ciriaco and Ellsbury worked back-to-back walks to lead off the fourth, Napoli singled to lead off the fifth, and we went down in order in the sixth.  Pedroia and Napoli both singled in the seventh, and a sac fly by Gomes brought Pedroia home.  We had a repeat performance in the eighth; Drew and Ciriaco both singled, and a sac fly by Nava brought Drew home.  Needless to say, we went down in order in the ninth.

In the end, we lost by the ugly score of 15-8.  No baseball team should lose after scoring eight runs, and yet despite those eight runs, twelve hits, and four walks, we lost to a team that scored almost twice as many runs as we scored.  We batted .300 with runners in scoring position, four of our hits were for extra bases, and let’s not forget about the grand slam.  But when your pitching staff gives up fifteen runs on twenty hits, there’s really not much you can do about that; eight runs should always be considered sufficient, and if we’d happened to score more than fifteen runs, then that’s just great.  But it shouldn’t have to be essential.

In other news, the B’s beat the Leafs, 4-3.  We now lead the series, 3-1.

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The game lasted three hours and one minute.  When a game is short, it’s either really good and really bad.  Usually, it’s really good for one team and really bad for the other team.

Dempster gave a great start.  He was the victim of some errors, but overall he made a great start.  He pitched seven innings, which is longer than usual for him.  He gave up four runs, only two of which were earned, on five hits.  He walked only one and struck out eight.  Disregarding the unearned runs and accounting for the number of innings, the lack of walks, and the abundant strikeouts, it was one of his best starts this year.

He had a one-two-three first.  A single was his only blemish in the second.  He had a one-two-three third.  He gave up a single and issued a walk in the fourth.  The trouble started in the fifth.  He gave up a double and then balked.  He induced a popout that was more trouble than it was worth; Middlebrooks caught it in foul territory, but he collided with Ross en route.  It was so bad that the two of them had to leave the game; Ross had an injured leg, and Middlebrooks had an injured side.  It was truly, truly painful to watch too.  But what a catch.  Seriously, what a catch.  And Dempster allowed a single that Drew deflected and that scored a run.

He had a one-two-three sixth, and he gave up a solo shot in the seventh.  It was reviewed but ended up standing.  But it was close.  Really, really close.

Dempster had two baserunners reach in the eighth on errors.  Both were fielding errors by Ciriaco.  That was when Dempster was replaced by Breslow, who gave up a double, a walk, and two singles.  The latter two singles were both responsible for loading the bases.  Four runs scored on Breslow’s watch; the first two were attributed to Dempster because they were scored by inherited runners, and those were the ones that were unearned, although one of Wilson’s own runs was also unearned.  Wilson replaced Breslow and induced a force out; the runner was out at home, but that didn’t stop another runner from scoring.  Salty tried to make it a double play by firing to first, but supposedly the ball hit the runner.  John came out to argue; he wasn’t ejected, but his argument wasn’t accepted.  Wilson ended the inning shortly thereafter.  Other than a walk issued in the ninth, Wilson was right on.

Meanwhile, our hitters were doing absolutely nothing.  It was like all their strength was sapped by the walkoff win, and they had nothing left.  We mustered a grand total of four hits all night.  Ellsbury singled to lead off the first, Papi singled to lead off the second, Drew singled to lead off the third, and Salty homered beyond the Monster.  Ellsbury and Pedroia both walked in the ninth.  So all of that means a few things.  First of all, without those four hits, we would have been no-hit.  Secondly, without Salty’s homer, we would have been shut out.  Thirdly, because Ellsbury walked after Salty’s home run and because Pedroia walked after Ellsbury was thrown out in a double play, at no point during the entire game did we have a single baserunner in scoring position.

Lastly, it means that we lost, 6-1.

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

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