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What we did not need for Game Two was a repeat performance of Game One.  What it looked like we were going to get was a Game Two performance even worse than our performance in Game One.  But what we got was something completely unexpected in all of its familiar glory.

We were no-hit through six innings.  And if Victorino hadn’t gotten hit, and if Ellsbury and Papi hadn’t walked, we would have had no baserunners at all.

The same can not be said of the Tigers, who were busy capitalizing on Buchholz’s mistakes.  Admittedly, there weren’t that many.  But when your offense is completely turned off, one run against you can feel like ten.

Buchholz went one-two-three in the first.  After striking out his first batter of the second, he gave up a single, a double, and an RBI single.  He went one-two-three in the third and contended with two baserunners in the fourth after he recorded the first two outs and then hit a batter, issued a wild pitch, and dealt with Drew’s fielding error.  Then he went one-two-three in the fifth and gave up more runs in the sixth.  He gave up a solo shot with one out, and then he gave up another run thanks to two consecutive doubles, and then after securing the inning’s second out he gave up a two-run home run.  Plenty of mistakes.

He gave up a single after that and was replaced by Workman, who issued a walk and induced a groundout.  Two outs into the seventh, Doubront came in and ended it and pitched a fine eighth.

Fortunately, we finally got on the board in the seventh when Victorino singled and scored on a double by Pedroia with two out.  So we broke both the no-hitter and the shutout bid.  But we didn’t follow that with a rally.  Instead, we went down in order in the seventh.  Drew opened the eighth with a groundout, and then Middlebrooks doubled, Ellsbury walked, Victorino struck out, and we were all bracing ourselves for some very unpleasant flashbacks.

Then Pedroia singled to load the bases, and then I don’t know.  I really don’t know.  I don’t know what it is.  It could be everything aligning perfectly at exactly the right moment.  It could be the ideal combination of a number of factors.  Or it could simply just be something in the air.  It’s just really hard to figure out.  But somehow we just have this thing.  I can’t explain it.  It’s just a thing that we do that happens at a certain time of year.  And I guess there are just some people who can tap into that, and then things just happen and it’s perfect.

So when David Ortiz stepped up to the plate, I started bracing myself for flashbacks of a different sort.  I didn’t even have time to feel it in the air.  It just happened.  It happened faster than any of us could recall the same kind of thing having happened in the past.  It was just David Ortiz at home, standing at the plate, connecting with the ball.  Simple.  Just like that.

And he worked the magic.  It was an eighty-six mile-per-hour changeup.  It was the first pitch thrown by Detroit’s latest reliever.  And it ended up beyond the right field fence into the bullpen.

With one swing of the bat all the way in the eighth inning, David Ortiz tied the game and paved the way for us to tie the series.  David Ortiz hit a grand slam.

And then Uehara pitched the ninth.  And then Gomes singled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Salty.  It was a walkoff.  Just like old times.  We won, 6-5.

In other news, the Pats eked out a win against the Saints, 30-27.

Boston Globe Staff/Stan Grossfeld
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We lost again.  How ’bout that? Only this time it was even more painful than usual because this time we could have won easily.  Except that, really, it can’t be more painful than usual since we’ve had plenty of losses like this one as well.  So really it’s just another in a long line of diverse and painful losses.

But seriously, this one was really bad.  Like, it was really, really bad.  We seriously were so close to winning; all we had to do was hold on.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We scored first.  Ellsbury was dropped in the lineup but produced anyway; with one out in the second, Ross walked, and then Ellsbury went deep on a changeup to right for two runs on one swing.  It was awesome.  We haven’t seen power from him in a while, so it’s good to know he’s still got it.

Meanwhile, Buchholz was on a roll.  The extent of the Jays’ threats during the first two innings was one walk in each, and then they singled in the third before finally scoring in the fourth.  Unfortunately, they erased our two-run lead in the process and established a one-run lead of their own.  After securing the inning’s first out on a three-pitch strikeout, Buchholz gave up three consecutive singles that brought in one run, a sac fly that brought in the tying run, and another single that brought in the go-ahead run.

Both teams then went down in order in the next two half-innings.  Kalish walked in the fifth, but the inning ended with a pickoff.  Buchholz took down the Jays in order in the sixth, and then Pedroia tied the game at three with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning, going deep on a slider, his second pitch of the at-bat, which sailed out toward the Monster.  So all three of our runs were scored via the long ball.

Both teams then went down in order until the top of the ninth.  Buchholz induced a groundout to start it off.  But then the badness happened.  It was the badness that would cause us to lose the ballgame.  He gave up a single, which may as well have been a double thanks to a steal.  He then gave up another single, which also resulted in a steal.  He then issued an intentional walk to load the bases.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, what happened next would have been considered a fantastic play given any other circumstances.  Buchholz gave up a sac fly, which scored a run.  Normally, you accept the fact that, with the bases loaded, you take the out even if it means you allow a run, and if you escape from that situation after having allowed only one run, you’re in great shape.  The problem is that, sometimes, you’re in a tie situation and that run is the dealbreaker that decides your fate.  So given the circumstances, during any other season, this loss would have to have been accepted as a loss that you sometimes have to expect to endure.  But this is not any other season.  This is a season during which we’re losing as much as we’d have been winning during any other season.  And so it’s worse.  Much, much worse.

Tazawa issued a walk and then ended the inning on a strikeout.  We failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, so we lost, 4-3.  The irony, of course, was that Bobby V. came out to the mound with one out in the ninth and Buchholz was convinced his night was done.  It begs the question of what would have happened had Buchholz been right.  At the time, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that, at the time, we had no reason to believe that the ball should be taken away from him.  Hindsight, of course, is always twenty-twenty.  We just got swept.

In other news, now that the regular season is underway, let’s talk about the Patriots! In preseason, we beat the Saints but lost to the Eagles, Bucs, and Giants.  Fortunately, we started the regular season off right, beating the Titans, 34-13.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Happy Truck Day, everybody! I’m telling you, nothing warms the soul like an eighteen-wheeler pulling out of Fenway Park to head south in the dead of winter.  It’s been an especially long winter this year, so I’m ready to see some ball.  I can’t even begin to describe how psyched I am.  I don’t care how cold it is outside; Spring Training is almost here! Pitchers and catchers on Thursday! Life is good.  Life, indeed, is good.

Non-roster invitees are right-handers Randor Bierd, Fernando Cabrera, Casey Kelly, Adam Mills, Edwin Moreno, Joe Nelson, Jorge Sosa, and Kyle Weiland; southpaws Kris Johnson and Brian Shouse; catchers Luis Exposito and Gustavo Molina; infielders Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, Angel Sanchez, and Gil Velazquez; and outfielders Zach Daeges, Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin, and Darnell McDonald.  Keep your eye on Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias.  They’re beasts.  And I hope Lars Anderson doesn’t disappoint; he’s supposed to be the first homegrown power hitter we’ve had in a long time, and I’m psyched to see him put up some big numbers this year.

Youk, Pap, Lester, and Delcarmen are already down there, which is a good sign.  Pap and Delcarmen could really use the extra training after the badness they exhibited last season.  Youk has stated his intention to spend the entirety of his career in Boston and retire as a member of the Red Sox.  He stays in Boston during the offseason and loves New England.  Way to be, dude.  Way to be.  And Lester will probably be our Number One starter.  Last season he proved to be way more consistent than Beckett, and don’t look now, but he’s basically turned into one of the best southpaws in all of baseball.

By the way, it’s pretty much official that we’re not resigning Rocco Baldelli.  Guess who’s going to hit for Drew against southpaws: Bill Hall.  This should be mighty interesting.

Congratulations to Clay Buchholz, who’s been named the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer Spokesplayer! Nomar made his debut as an analyst on Baseball Tonight and was absolutely horrible.  He said nothing of consequence and made no sense half the time.  I guess that means he won’t be retiring as soon as we thought.

Spring Training.  Baseball season.  Almost here.  What more can I say? Soon it’ll be Opening Day (and by that I mean Opening Night; thanks again, ESPN), and we’ll get this show on the road!

In other news, the Saints won their first Super Bowl in franchise history last weekend.  The final score was 31-17, and let’s not to forget to mention Peyton Manning’s single interception, nabbed by Tracy Porter for a seventy-four-yard touchdown.  Tracy Porter now has the two most important interceptions in franchise history.  Also, let’s not forget to mention the Peyton face.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  Boston College won the Beanpot.  I know; I was surprised, too, because I was expecting the U after the B, not the C after the B.  The final score was 4-3; it was a close game, and a good one, too.  Oh yeah, and the Bruins are actually on a winning streak.  You read right.  We’ve won our last four games; a 3-0 shutout against the Habs last weekend, a 3-2 shootout victory against the Sabres, a 5-4 defeat of the Lightning, and a 3-2 shootout win against the Panthers.  With the exception of the Habs win, which by the way was exceptionally gratifying, those were some seriously close calls, but we are in absolutely no position to be picky.  A win is a win, and I’ll most definitely take it.

Boston.com/Steve Silva

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This is going to be short because absolutely nothing happened this week.  Nothing.  I think this was the quietest week of the offseason.  Then again, it’s always quiet right before Truck Day.  That’s the big story right there; Truck Day is February 12! Right around the corner! Can’t wait.  Seriously.  Can not wait.  It’s been a long winter and I’m ready to see some eighteen-wheelers head south.

It’s basically settled: the Padres will deal Gonzalez, not sign him to a new deal.  I bet he’ll be out of San Diego by this season’s trade deadline.

Jermaine Dye is still unemployed.  I wouldn’t mind at all if he became a last-minute acquisition.  He’s not what he used to be, but he wouldn’t be starting and we could use the extra power.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still true, so I’ll say it again: look for Theo to hammer out new deals for both V-Mart and Beckett this season.  V-Mart is probably the least complicated of the two.  .336 average, .405 on-base percentage, .507 slugging percentage, 41 RBIs in 56 games, and consistently brings it when batting third.  V-Mart has an OPS of .837; that’s tenth among catchers with more than twenty-five hundred plate appearances through their seasons at age thirty.  The nine guys ahead of him include five Hall of Famers and two who are headed there.  That’s pretty much everything you need to know.  Sign him.  I’m thinking forty million for four years, or something like that.  Maybe throw in some extra cash because of his added value as a first baseman/DH.  By the way, he wants to stay in Boston.

The Beckett situation is a little trickier.  I know what you’re thinking: just offer him a Lackey-type deal and be done with it.  But it’s not that simple.  He’ll probably get something more like Halladay’s deal with the Phillies because of his shoulder.  Lackey has an issue too, but it’s with his elbow, and recovering from Tommy John surgery is very different from recovering from rotator cuff surgery.  We built protection into Lackey’s contract and will look to do the same with Beckett’s.  If Beckett has a problem with that, make no mistake: he will be allowed to walk.  We will not take unnecessary risks with our investments; that much is certain.  And if he walks, there’s always someone like Cliff Lee.  That isn’t to say he won’t be missed.  He will most definitely be missed.  And measures should be taken to avoid a situation in which he will be missed.  Besides, I wouldn’t necessarily be so sure that Beckett won’t agree to the protection.  He loves playing in Boston.  Lackey and Drew wanted to play in Boston badly enough that they agreed to their protections, no problem.  We could reasonably expect Beckett to do the same.

Last but not least, Nomar Garciaparra’s announcement of his retirement is expected to be imminent.  He says he’s determined to play this season if the right solution comes up, but the problem is that it probably won’t come up.  When the announcement is made, I’ll be ready with a tribute.  For now, suffice it to say that, for better or for worse, he was a legend in Boston and would be missed.

If you thought I didn’t want to talk about the Bruins last week, you can imagine how I feel about talking about them this week.  We’re currently nursing a ten-game losing streak.  Ten games.  Four of those were overtime losses.  Quite frankly, it’s just disgusting.  At this rate, not only will we not make the playoffs, but we’ll finish the season in the dregs of the league.  At least the Olympics are coming up, which should cure some of New England’s Bruins-induced hockey ailments for a little while.

Super Bowl tonight at 6:00PM! As a Pats fan, please allow me to say one thing: Who dat? Here’s to hoping the Saints take care of business.  Get psyched.

Surviving Grady

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Finally, it starts to get interesting.

Pitching is Theo’s top priority at the Winter Meetings.  It looks like we’re shifting our focus from Roy Halladay to John Lackey.  That’s very good news.  I don’t want to give up both Clay Buchholz and Casey Kelly for a pitcher who is, in all likelihood, past his prime.  Yes, it’s possible he could be another Randy Johnson, who won four straight Cy Youngs after turning thirty-five, or Curt Schilling, who was a Cy Young runner-up three times after turning thirty-three.  But it’s also possible that he just won’t deliver or that he’ll become a medical liability or, worse yet, the dreaded combination of both.  (See Randy Johnson in pinstripes.  Talk about disasters.) And if you compare the two, Roy Halladay doesn’t even enjoy a complete edge in the numbers.  In his career, he started and won more games, struck out more batters, and had a lower ERA, OPP AVG, and WHIP.  But Lackey’s gone the distance more often (which translates to durability, one of Lackey’s strongest assets) and has allowed fewer earned runs, home runs, bases on balls, and hit batters.  And we land Lackey this offseason, it would be through a signing, not a trade, so we wouldn’t have to mortgage our future.  Besides, we theoretically have some money left over from our decision to not pick up Alex Gonzalez’s option.

Supposedly, we’re also seriously pursuing Rich Harden.  I like that less.  He’s got a 3.39 career ERA with 783 strikeouts and a record of fifty and twenty-nine, but he’s never thrown two hundred innings in a season and has only made more than twenty-six starts once.  Durability? Not so much.  But he’d be a good bargain option, arguably a better one than Smoltz or Penny, because he’s pitched in the American League.

Speaking of pitching, the Braves cleaned out two of our peripheral relievers.  Wagner signed a one-year deal worth seven million dollars to close for them.  I would’ve liked to see him come back to Boston, but he did give us fair warning that he wanted to close, and we don’t exactly have a vacancy in that position.  One day later, the Braves signed Saito also, to a one year deal worth just over three million plus incentives.  I’m not too torn up about it.

Say hello to the latest shortstop to don a Boston uniform: Marco Scutaro.  If I sound cynical, it’s because I am.  He’s wearing Number 16; the last Boston shortstop to wear Number 16 was Edgar Renteria, so here’s hoping this time around will work out a little bit better.  Let’s not kid ourselves: he’s a veteran.  He’s a career .265 hitter with fifty home runs, 294 RBIs, and 297 walks to his credit.  But he’s thirty-four years old.  There’s a reason why the deal was only for two years.  It’s worth eleven million dollars plus a dual option.  Things that made this possible: the draft pick we’re getting from the Braves that will offset the one we have to give to the Jays, another undisclosed team pushing hard for Scutaro that forced the issue, and Scurato has reached that point in his career when he really wants a ring.  (Ironically, Alex Gonzalez signed a one-year deal with the Jays earlier, worth close to three million plus an option.) Either way, we now have a shortstop who is not Dustin Pedroia.

That needs to be cleared up once and for all.  Dustin Pedroia said he would be willing to play shortstop if the team needed him to.  But the team wasn’t about to let that happen.  Trust me.  You don’t move a Gold Glove second baseman to short because you don’t want to spend some money.  You don’t do that for a number of reasons.  Not the least of which is the fact that it doesn’t solve anything.  Fine; you move your second baseman to short.  Now you need a second baseman.  Sure, the market for second basemen is more fluid than that for shortstops, but not when you’re talking about second basemen as good as Dustin Pedroia.  Also, the caliber of Pedroia’s defense at short would be comparable to, if not worse than, any career shortstop on the market, with the obvious exception of Julio Lugo.  Thirdly, shortstop is no defensive walk in the park.  It’s the most difficult infield position.  And that means it carries a higher probability of injury, especially for someone who’s not used to it.  So we would have lost valuable playing time from him, both in the field and at the plate, had he made the switch.  Would he have been capable of doing so? Absolutely.  If anyone could, Dustin Pedroia could.  If there’s one ballplayer who embodies the don’t-tell-me-I-can’t-‘cause-I’ll-show-you-I-can attitude, it’s him.  Not to mention the fact that in 2003 he was the NCAA National Defensive Player of the Year at short.  And he’s actually in a better position to play shortstop at the Major League level now than he was when he first came up, due to his offseason workouts and in-season conditioning that have made him lighter and faster.  But even though he’d use his baseball acumen to compensate, his range would leave much to be desired.  And sometimes, in pressure situations in that part of the field, the range of the shortstop is what it comes down to.  It would have put considerable pressure on Mike Lowell to improve his range as compensation, that’s for sure.  So while I’m not doubting Pedroia’s ability to make the switch, I don’t think it would be a good for him or the team in the long run.  The team wasn’t actually serious about that possibility anyway.  Ultimately, Theo never would have allowed it.  Thankfully, it’s a moot point now either way.

But that would explain our earlier interest in Placido Polanco.  After the Tigers declined to offer him arbitration, we made a call or two.  But like I said, we don’t need a second baseman, and even if we did, he was all but off-limits.  The Phillies have since closed the deal.  So much for Chone Figgins, who ended up signing a four-year deal with Seattle.

Last but not least, we extended arbitration to Bay earlier this week.  (We declined offers to Baldelli and Byrd.) That means that, even if he signs with someone else, we get compensatory draft picks.  So the saga continues.

Congratulations to Joe Castiglione, Dave O’Brien, and Jerry Remy for landing on the ballot for the Hall of Fame’s Frick Award, honoring the baseball’s best announcers.  They definitely deserve it.

We beat the Lightning and the Leafs.  Not so much the Habs.  We lost, 1-5, to Montreal.  Ugh.  That was just an awful game to watch.  Even with that loss, though, we’re in first place in the Northeast! Finally! One point ahead of the Sabres, but I’ll take it.  But the most significant B’s news this week has nothing to do with wins and losses.  Marc Savard signed a seven-year extension.  Ladies and gentlemen, that could very well be the highlight of the regular season.  It’s going to have a hugely positive impact it’s going to have on our future.  There is arguably no other center in the league who is as multi-faceted and deeply talented as Marc Savard.  Things aren’t as cheerful on the football front.  Talk about awful games to watch.  The Saints defeated us, 38-17.  Yeah.  Awful.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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