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Posts Tagged ‘Ozzie Guillen’

We’re seeing good things from the pitchers as well as the hitters this week.  Lester has a bit of a ways to go shaking the offseason rust off, but Beckett seems to be right on track.  Papi and Pedroia, among others, delivered at the plate this week as well.  We also made our first round of cuts, with no major surprises.  We saw some cases for the role of fifth starter, and we saw Bard hiccup in his latest step on the road to becoming a starter, which one American League scout seems to think is not the greatest of ideas.  Bobby V. also says he’s working with the pitchers to develop a new approach that incorporates a little more focus on the first-base runner in order to avoid the rampant running that we experienced last season.  All in all, it was a great week, and we’re starting to look like a team again.

We beat the Orioles, 6-1, on Sunday.  It was better than his previous outing, but still not what you expect from him.  In four innings, he threw sixty-six pitches and gave up one run and one hit and struck out two but walked four.  That’s never something you want to hear.  He bounced back, though, to retire seven of his last eight batters.  Shoppach caught him for the first time in seven years.  His cutter was really nice.  Pedroia went two for three with two RBIs, and Ross hit and scored twice each.  Cook, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, delivered two scoreless frames.  His sinker was good.

We beat the Marlins, 5-3, on Monday, ironically on Beckett’s watch.  In total, he pitched four innings.  In total, he struck out three, gave up one run, one hit, and one walk and hit two batters.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  His first inning was horrible.  He hit both batters that inning; allowed that one hit, a double; and allowed one of his walks, which came with the bases loaded to allow his only run.  He threw twenty-one pitches that inning.  But he turned it around, and it was smooth sailing after that; he retired the last seven batters he faced and threw thirty-six pitches for the remainder of his outing.  Melacon delivered a perfect fifth; Bailey delivered a not-so-perfect sixth, giving up three straight hits and a run before finishing his work.  Ozzie Guillen received his first rejection as manager of the Florida Marlins.  That really didn’t take him long at all; honestly, I’m surprised it didn’t come sooner.  Finally, Pedro Ciriaco, a non-roster invitee to camp, blasted a two-run walkoff home run in the tenth inning to win it for us.

I don’t care if it’s the regular season, the postseason, or Spring Training; for me, beating the Yankees is always in season.  And that’s what we did on Tuesday.  By a score of 1-0.  Ciriaco again delivered; he singled to lead off the ninth and came home on two errors.  Doubront started and delivered four shutout innings during which he gave up two hits, walked one, balked one, and struck out three.  Forty-nine of his seventy-five pitches were strikes.  Obviously he threw way too many pitches, but what he was throwing looked good.  Bowden struck out three of his four batters and delivered a scoreless fifth.  Padilla also appeared and pitched three innings, striking out four.  Meanwhile, Buchholz started a simulation game and pitched four simulated innings; he walked two, struck out two, and gave up five hits, two of which were for extra bases.  He also picked off Punto.

The Cards beat us on Thursday, 9-6.  It wasn’t pretty.  Bobby V.’s statement that Bard’s been better was an understatement.  Bard was originally supposed to pitch four innings in relief, but he only lasted two and two-thirds innings.  He gave up seven runs on six hits, one of which was a home run.  He struck out four but also walked four.  There was also a sixteen-minute rain delay in the middle of his first inning, which supposedly wasn’t helpful either.  Meanwhile, Aceves started the game and actually delivered four full innings, and his four innings were awesome: one run on three hits, no walks, and four strikeouts.  McDonald and Pedroia each hit home runs, McDonald’s a two-runner and Pedroia’s a leadoff shot.  Papi and Lavarnway each hit doubles.

The Twins squeaked by us on Thursday, 2-1.  Lester was not good.  He threw eighty-one pitches in four innings.  Only forty-seven of those eighty-one pitches were strikes.  He hit two, walked one, struck out one, and gave up five hits, all of them to the last third of the order.  No control, no command, and no curveball.  Miller pitched a scoreless inning and struck out two; his two strikeouts came from the stretch, while a walk in the inning came from the windup.  Bobby V. told him to only pitch out of the stretch.  We’ll see how that works out.  Bailey bounced back to strike out two in a one-two-three inning.

We played two split-squad games against the Orioles yesterday.  We tied one at three and won the other, 7-4.  In the former, Cook pitched three and one-third innings and gave up a hit and a walk but struck out one and induced a double play.  In the latter, Beckett pitched a fine five innings; he gave up one run on two hits while walking one and striking out two.  Forty of his fifty-nine pitches were strikes.  Yup, that’s a mighty fine five innings.  Ross hit a home run in a full count.

In other news, the B’s lost to the Pens, Bolts, and Sens but beat the Flyers.

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Paul Byrd has had two starts this year.  One was pure gold, and the other was just so much scrap.  So which one was the real Paul Byrd and which is the fluke? It’s hard to tell with only two outings.  On the one hand, maybe that initial adrenaline rush made him pitch better than usual.  On the other hand, maybe anxiety made him pitch worse than usual.  Either way, he’s got some serious apologizing to do to the bullpen after leaving the game only two and a third innings into it.  But he had to get out.  There was no way he was staying in.  Seven runs on ten hits with no walks, three K’s, and an extremely ironic two-run shot by Mark Kotsay later, Junichi Tazawa found himself on the mound preparing for a long night.

And when I say long I mean long, because Tazawa didn’t do much to limit the damage.  In three and two-thirds innings, he gave up five runs on seven hits with a walk and a strikeout.  Delcarmen needed twenty-nine pitches to take care of the seventh, and Saito needed nineteen.  It wasn’t a good night.  At all.

Incidentally, I wonder what our winning percentage is for games during which the starter leaves before the fifth inning.  We have the best bullpen in the Major Leagues, so it has to be higher than most teams, but it’s very difficult to win those.  We should be very thankful for Tazawa, though.  Yes, we lost and he was a reason why, but he also ate up innings.  This loss would have been so much worse in the long run had we gone to the bullpen proper instead of to a starter-by-trade.  For example, if Justin Masterson were still here, this is exactly the kind of situation in which we’d use him.

The offense, essentially, did absolutely nothing.  It was ridiculous.  Every member of the starting nine, with the exception of Alex Gonzalez, was gone by the time the game was over.  They were all replaced by the B team and callups.  Pedroia, Green, V-Mart, Youk, Ortiz, Gathright, Drew, Kottaras, and Gonzalez each had hits.  With the exception of Kottaras’s, which was a double, none of them were for extra bases.  We batted .333 with runners in scoring position, but that was because we only had three such chances and made good on one of them.  Youk singled to center field to plate Pedroia, and Kottaras doubled in Gathright.  End of story.  Oh, and Green made a throwing error.

Ozzie Guillen had a lot of praise for Youk and Pedroia.  Ironic this praize came after we lost.  But then, it’s Ozzie Guillen.  You never know.  Mikey Lowell says it’s hard not playing everyday, and I believe him.  He’s a starter by trade.  He wants to be out there, but he can’t so often anymore because of his hip.  Still, since the All-Star break he’s hitting .339 with six home runs and twenty-six RBIs, coupled with a .389 on-base percentage and a .583 slugging percentage.  Since Tazawa is unavailable, we’re calling up Michael Bowden for today’s start, just in case Wakefield has to make an early exit.

The final score was 12-2.  So we scored once in the fourth and once in the ninth.  They scored twice in the second, five times in the third, and five times in the fourth.  This loss was infuriating but not as worrisome as its ramifications.  And when I say ramifications, I’m referring to its impact on the bullpen, its effects on the starting rotation, its alterations of both the Wild Card and division standings, and its impact on the team’s morale.  Any way you look at them, lopsided scores are never good.  There’s never a silver lining.  There may be a silver lining to how you deal with them at the time, like putting a pitcher in to eat innings in an effort to save arms and substituting for your starters to give them some rest, but there’s never a bright side to the outcome.  With the possible exception of identifying areas of improvement, but that happens after every game.  The only thing we can do after a game like this is move on and hope the team does the same.  Tim Wakefield will be leading that charge this afternoon opposite Gavin Floyd.  And I really hope this goes right.

In other news, Peter Chiarelli announced an extension of Claude Julien’s contract.  Well done.  In his first two season as head coach, Julien took us from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to the top, with playoff appearances after both season.  Last year was our first Eastern Conference Semifinal appearance since 1999.  That says something.  All we have to do is lock up Kessel, and we’ll be all set!

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Last night’s big story was Clay Buchholz.  Last night was exactly why there was no chance Buchholz was going to be traded, not even for the likes of Roy Halladay.  Who knows? We may have a future Roy Halladay on our hands.  One who throws mostly off-speed pitches and keeps opposing batters guessing until they suddenly realize they’ve been called out.  In all seriousness, the Clay Buchholz who started last night’s game was the same kid who no-hit the Orioles in his second Major League start.  The Clay Buchholz of 2009 is not the Clay Buchholz of 2008, and Red Sox Nation can be very happy about that.

He pitched just over eight full innings.  He gave up one run on three hits.  He walked two but struck out nine.  He threw 107 pitches, 67 of them for strikes.  Half his pitches were four-seams (topping out at ninety-five miles per hour), a quarter were changeups, and the rest was a very effective mixture of two-seams, sliders, and curveballs.  I’m going to let those numbers speak for themselves.  It doesn’t get much sharper, more precise, more efficient, or just generally better than that.

That’s a lot more than I can say for Okajima, who relieved Buchholz in the ninth and who was taken out after pitching to two batters and allowing a run but failing to record an out.  Paps came on and took care of the last two outs of the game in five pitches, four of them strikes.  There was a fist-pump involved.  That’s how you know you’re on the home stretch.

We won, 3-2.  RBIs for Pedroia, Gonzalez, and V-Mart.  Ellsbury went two for five with a double and a triple, and Pedroia went three for four.  Drew recorded one hit and walked twice, but don’t let that fool you.  Since returning from the disabled list, he’s hit .364 with five home runs and an on-base percentage of .462.  In that time, the team’s gone eight and three.  And those numbers look an awful lot like his numbers from last June, when Ortiz was on the disabled list and he really stepped up to the plate, both literally and figuratively.  Just sayin’.

Wakefield will miss his next start due to more back trouble, so Lester’s start will be moved up, followed by Beckett and Buchholz.  We optioned Tazawa to the Gulf Coast League Red Sox but will probably reactivate him in time for the White Sox series, which starts Friday.  (There’s this rule that you can’t recall an optioned player for ten days or until the season ends, and the GCL Red Sox’ season ends in time for that series, which is why he’s not with Pawtucket.) And finally, Tito and John Farrell have stated that health is not a factor in Josh Beckett’s recent downturn, which is the result of a severe lack of command in the lower part of the strike zone, as per usual when Beckett has a downturn.  Farrell is confident that this can be fixed quickly.  Good.  So let’s fix it.  Because this stretch has been dire.  Take Friday’s outing as an example.  Although his nine strikeouts accounted for more than half the staff’s seventeen that night, which was the most by a Red Sox staff in nine innings since April 8, 2001, he walked five batters.  He hasn’t done that since September 16, 2006, and it’s only the third time he’s done it in his entire career.  Over his last four starts, he’s allowed twelve balls to leave the park, as opposed to zero over his previous five starts.  In his first twenty-two starts, so that’s more than five times as many starts, he only gave up ten.  So yeah.  I’m in favor of fixing it.

Unfortunately, we have to contend with the fact that Sergio Mitre one-hit the White Sox in the Bronx.  The final score was 10-0.  Well, isn’t that just lovely.  That’s exactly what we need right now, isn’t it.  Whatever.  It’ll come back to bite them somehow.  I’ll bet Ozzie Guillen had some words for his team, though.  Anyway, in keeping with our focus on ourselves and not on the competition (if you look back while you run a race, you’ll slow down), we’re taking on Roy Halladay this afternoon, and who is on the mound for us but Paul Byrd.  He hasn’t dealt a Major League pitch since the end of last season, so this should be interesting.  Still, I keep the faith.

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The stage was set.  It was all right there.  Bottom of the ninth, trailing 2-4, two out, two men on.  Who but Dustin Pedroia at the plate.  Of all the men in the lineup, it’s him you definitely want up there.  But the dude chased a pitch out of the strike zone and we lost.  But he was right when he said we put up a good fight.  Even Ozzy Guillen had praise for Pedroia.  How about that? That’s something I’d like to have seen.

Of course losing the game wasn’t Pedey’s fault.  Five members of the starting lineup were held to just one hit and three were hitless (for Jason Bay, this is only the third time in a Boston uniform).  The only member of the lineup who had a multi-hit game was Jacoby Ellsbury, who went three for four with a walk and an RBI.  Lowrie batted in the other run in the ninth.

From the pitching perspective, it was pretty much business as usual.  Wakefield pitched six, allowing three runs on six hits with three K’s.  Two of those runs were from Wake’s mistake facing Jim Thome, who hit it out of the park with one on in the first.  Three runs is about right for Wakefield, so all we have to do is score more.  For some reason, that hasn’t happened much this year, giving him a record of 8-9 after yesterday’s loss.  It seems like every year there’s a pitcher on the staff who suffers from a lack of run support.  Last year it was Dice-K early in the season.  This year it’s definitely Wake.  Delcarmen was perfect for two innings but it didn’t help that Masterson gave up the fourth Chicago run on three hits.  We collected a total of eight hits and left eleven men on base.

There were some pluses though.  Yesterday afternoon’s contest was a stealfest.  We had four: Pedroia, Crisp, and two for Ellsbury.  We made no errors.  And Dustin Pedroia tied an 86-year-old record for most hits in a single season by a Red Sox second baseman with 183 hits.  He now stands with Del Pratt at the top of that list, who matched that total in 1922.

We’ve still got the Wild Card, but this loss puts us 5.5 games behind the Rays.  We have two series with the Rays coming up, one at home and one on the road, so those are going to be key.  Other than that we’ve got a decent schedule.  If we’re going to make a run for it, now would definitely be the time to set it up.

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In his Major League debut, Michael Bowden picked up the win and did a mighty fine job.  Ozzie Guillen, who in his own way has something to say about everything, said that Bowden didn’t impress him.  That’s okay by me.  Maybe Bowden didn’t impress Guillen, but he impressed Guillen’s lineup.  He pitched five solid innings, giving up just two runs on seven hits with a walk and three K’s.  And the relief was on, too: Lopez, Delcarmen, Masterson, and Okie pitched four perfect innings.  The final score was 8-2.  The White Sox had nine hits; we had fifteen.

Three RBIs for Kotsay, two each for Bay and Lowrie, and one for Bailey.  Kotsay went three for five.  He’s gotten a little lost in the shuffle I think, but he’s another guy who didn’t have much going in the way of a postseason appearance and then suddenly found himself in the middle of a pennant race.  His adjustment is going very well, and like Jason Bay he’s already had a positive impact on the team.  Score another one for Theo; acquiring Kotsay was definitely a good move.  Ellsbury also went three for five and scored his fair share of runs, but the offensive story again centers on Dustin Pedroia, possibly the best second baseman in the league.  Dustin Pedroia went four for four again last night, walked once, scored twice, and made an outstanding jumping catch in the seventh inning.  He’s now hitting .327 and slugging .490.  The dude is unstoppable.  Opposing pitchers just don’t know what to do with him.  He really is, as he says, the “strongest 160-pound man in baseball.” By the way, did I mention he did all of that from the clean-up spot? Youk is sick and Lowell and Drew are still out, so look who got to bat behind David Ortiz.  Apparently Tito called Pedey to Ortiz’s locker before the game to show Ortiz who’d be hitting behind him.  Pedey said it was about time; Ortiz said he was retiring.  He’s a real character.  The team razzes him and he razzes back, but he always gets the job done.  I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again: Rookie of the Year to starting All-Star to MVP.

In other news, Robinson Cano’s throwing error pretty much lost last night’s game with the Jays for the Yankees.  They’re now seven games behind us.  Julio Lugo has been moved from the fifteen-day to the sixty-day DL, and I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that that is definitely a good thing, and Sean Casey’s been put on the fifteen-day DL with a neck strain.  That doesn’t bother me, because we have Jeff Bailey to pick up the slack.  This afternoon it’s Wakefield against Gavin Floyd for the sweep.  I have to say, so far I’m liking August.

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