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Posts Tagged ‘Prince Fielder’

Prince Fielder won the derby with twenty-eight total home runs, four of which were the longest hit by any batter.  He and Ken Griffey, Jr. are the only players to have won multiple derbies.  Robinson Cano failed to hit any, which I enjoyed.

The National League somehow managed to win its third straight All-Star Game by a most embarrassing and humiliating score of eight-zip.  How that was even possible, I have no idea.  The American League seriously needs to step it up.  Fortunately it wasn’t the biggest run difference in the history of the All-Star Game.  The American League earned that when it beat the National League, 12-0, in 1946 at Fenway, of course.

They scored five runs in the first thanks to a two-run home run, a bases-clearing triple hit with the bases loaded, and an RBI single.  You can thank Justin Verlander for those; each of the American League pitchers pitched only one inning, but clearly his inning was by far the worst, ironically enough.  Why couldn’t he pitch like that when we’ve had to face him? He’s the third pitcher to give up at least five runs in at most one inning and the first to do it since 1983.  The last time an inning like this happened was in 2004, that most illustrious year, when the AL lit up the NL for six runs in the first.

They scored another three runs in the fourth thanks to an RBI single and another two-run home run.  You can thank Matt Harrison for those.

The AL posted six hits to the NL’s ten, none of which were for extra bases.  The AL also went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.  Nobody had a multi-hit performance, but at least Papi didn’t go hitless; he went one for two.  The entire team worked only three walks.  Melky Cabrera won the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award, and Ron Washington is the second manager to lose two straight World Series as well as two straight All-Star Games at the same time with the same teams.

Lastly, let it be stated here that the 2012 All-Star Game should have been held in the only ballpark that should have been the only logical choice in the first place: America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.  Fenway Park turned one hundred years old this year and deserved to celebrate by hosting the All-Star Game.  It’s been long enough since we last hosted one, and the fact that the ballpark is small shouldn’t have entered into it.  The team, the brass, the city, and the fans deserved it.  What’s done is done, but I’m just saying.

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Yeah…so…that was not pretty.  In no conceivable way was that pretty.  There was nothing pretty about it.  Usually, you expect a baseball game to have some balanced ratio of good, bad, and ugly; if you’re lucky, you’ll have mostly good, very little bad, and almost no ugly.  Yesterday, we had just ugly.  Like, really ugly.

So there’s no point sugar-coating it.  The Josh Beckett we saw on the mound yesterday was not the Josh Beckett we saw in Spring Training or in our mind’s eye when we pictured how we expected this game to go down.  He wasn’t himself yesterday.  If you told me that he would last only four and two-thirds innings and in that time give up seven runs on seven hits, five of which were home runs, I would not have believed you at all.  You read right.  Seven runs on seven hits, five of which were home runs.  Those seven runs were the most he allowed since 2010.  Those five home runs ties a career high first set in 2009.  Just to give you an idea of how bad this is for Beckett, last season he didn’t allow his fifth home run of the season until June 28.  Yesterday was April 6.  This better not have anything to do with his thumb, which is what he stated.

There was a two-run home run in the first with one out on a two-seam by Miguel Cabrera; obviously that hurts.  Then there was a lead-off solo shot in the fourth on a cutter by Prince Fielder.  Then there was a two-run home run in the fourth, still with nobody out, on a changeup, the first pitch of the at-bat, by Alex Avila.  Then Cabrera and Fielder hit back-to-back solo shots in the fifth, both on changeups.  Cabrera’s home run was initially ruled a double; the ruling was overturned using instant replay.

He also walked one and struck out only three.  He threw eighty-three pitches, fifty-nine of which were strikes.  No command.  No control.  No efficiency (nineteen pitches in the first, nine in the second which was his best inning and not coincidentally his only one-two-three inning and also one of only two in which he did not allow a home run, fifteen in the third which was the other homerless inning, twenty-one in the fourth, and nineteen in the fifth before he was pulled).  No effectiveness.

I will say that his cutter and his two-seam were fabulous; ninety and eighty-two percent, respectively, of the ones he threw were strikes.  Too bad both pitches accounted for only thirty-one combined.  Also, he maxed his fastball at around ninety-three miles per hour.  And obviously he took the loss, which he totally deserved.

Unfortunately, the damage didn’t stop there.  Atchison relieved Beckett, finished the fifth and sixth, and gave up another run.  Albers pitched the first two outs of the seventh and gave up two runs, only one of them earned, the other thanks to a throwing error by Salty right after a spectacular play at home to get Fielder out.  Thomas finished the seventh, and Bowden pitched the eighth.  The latter two were our only pitchers not to allow runs.  It was a sad, sad day indeed.

By the way, did I mention that the offense did almost nothing? No, really.  The offense actually did almost nothing.  We collectively hit only one extra-base hit; it was a double by Salty.  We left seven on base and when a whopping 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.  Gonzalez went two for four and Sweeney went two for three for the only multi-hit games.  Ellsbury, Youk, Ross, and Aviles are all hitless in these last two games.  And, lastly, we failed to bat in and score a single run.  That’s right.  We lost, 10-0.  And in addition to Salty’s error, Aviles made a fielding error.  It was not a good day whatsoever by any stretch of the imagination.

In other news, the B’s beat the Sabres yesterday in a shootout, 4-3, battling back from a two-goal deficit.  The regular season is now over! The Rangers clinched the Eastern Conference, but we’ve clinched our division and therefore a playoff spot.  Our 102 points are good for second in the conference; the Panthers are third with ninety-two points.  Are you thinking repeat? I’m thinking repeat.

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Papi and Gonzalez went head-to-head in the Home Run Derby, but neither of them walked away with the trophy.  Papi actually didn’t do so well; he hit five dingers in the first round and four in the semifinals, so he was eliminated and never made it to the finals.  Gonzalez hit nine dingers in the first round, eleven in the semifinals, and tied a derby record of eleven in the final round that Papi set last year when he won the derby with thirty-two total.  It looked like the stage was set for a victory.  Even the park was cooperating; Gonzalez has only hit more home runs at his former home park in San Diego.  But Robinson Cano hit eight, twelve, and set a new derby record with twelve in the final round and therefore managed to beat him by one.  One! That is frustrating.

As far as the All-Star Game is concerned, that didn’t have a great outcome either.  The American League lost, 5-1.  I mean, come on.  If we have to lose, at least put up a fight.  At least lose by only one run or, even better, tie it and force extras and rise to the occasion.  That’s what the National League has been doing for the past few All-Star Games.  The American league went two for five with runners in scoring position; the National League went three for eight.  The American League left six men on base; the National League left three.  The American League had six hits; the National League had nine.  The difference-maker was Prince Fielder’s three-run shot in the fourth; CJ Wilson gave that up.  After that, there was an RBI single in the fifth and an RBI double in the seventh.

We had nothing to do with that.  Beckett ended up pulling out due to soreness in his left knee.  He says it’s a minor thing and expects to start Sunday.  It takes a big man and an even bigger team player to pull out of the All-Star Game so he can make his scheduled start with his team.

In two at-bats, Ellsbury struck out twice.  In one at-bat, Youk singled.  In two at-bats, Papi struck out once.  Gonzalez was a different story.  Adrian Gonzalez is the reason why the American League wasn’t shut out.  He went yard off of Cliff Lee on the second pitch of his first at-bat of the game with two out in the fourth inning, a cut fastball.  It was a hugely powerful swing that ended up in the first few rows of seats in right center field.  It was the first home run hit in an All-Star Game since JD Drew’s blast in 2008.  It’s funny; that home run didn’t make the American League win the game, so if he’d hit it in the derby instead of in the game, he would’ve forced a tiebreaker with Cano and maybe carried home the trophy after all.

Well, it’s not like we didn’t try to secure home field advantage for ourselves.  It just goes to show you that, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.  I can’t speak for anyone else.  None of our pitchers played in the game so the National League’s runs were not our fault.  Did I expect our guys to make a bigger impact at the plate? Yes, but I also expected everyone else on the team to chip in.  After all, it is the All-Star Game.  All-stars appear in All-Star Games because they’re supposed to be the best of the best.  I guess that goes for both sides, but if it’s the American League versus the National League, the American League should at least be giving the National League a run for its money every time.  Well, I guess come October we’ll just have to boost our away game.  But you have to get there first.  Let’s see what happens in the second half.

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We’ll start with the home run derby.  Prince Fielder won it with twenty-three long balls, averaging 439 feet.  His longest and second-longest were the longest and second-longest of the competition, measuring at 503 and 497 feet, respectively.  Nelson Cruz placed second with twenty-one long balls.  Then Ryan Howard with fifteen, and Albert Pujols with eleven.  Joe Mauer and Carlos Pena both hit five, all in the first round, and Adrian Gonzalez hit two, both in the first round.  Brandon Inge didn’t hit any.  Ouch.  If you’ve noticed, hometown heroes rarely do well in the home run derby, so Pujols would’ve been the tempting but unlikely choice for champion.  He came close, though.  Congratulations to Prince Fielder! The Prince of home runs.  Corny but it had to be done.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the game.  As expected, the American League extended its hitting streak over the National League to thirteen All-Star Games.  This doesn’t surprise me.  We all saw this coming.  It happens every year.  But the All-Star Game is just as much about the festivities as it is about the game, so we’ll start with the first pitch thrown by President Obama wearing a White Sox jacket.  It came out of his hand as sort of a lob at Pujols, who picked it out of the dirt.  Not bad.  As far as the game is concerned, I was very pleased to see that this one only lasted nine innings.  Halladay started.  He pitched two innings and gave up three runs on four hits, only two earned.  Those were the only runs the National League would score.  The American League’s eight pitchers struck out five, walked only one, and gave up only five hits (Joe Nathan gave up the other one).  Papelbon, thank you very much, got the win.  Joe Nathan got a hold.  Mariano Rivera got a save, obviously because he wasn’t trying to close a game against us.

But that’s not the point.  Papelbon came into the game in the seventh inning, when the score was tied 3-3, and Brad Hawpe rocketed his first pitch over the outfield wall.  Luckily, Carl Crawford caught it over the wall for the first out of the frame.  For that play alone, Carl Crawford was awarded the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award.  Then, Miguel Tejada flied out to Adam Jones, and Paps struck out Jayson Werth after eight pitches to end a ten-pitch outing.  Another one-two-three inning.  So Paps, who’s been an All-Star all four seasons he’s closed for us, gets the All-Star win he deserves.  Before the break, he actually insisted that Mariano Rivera close, probably due to all of the irrelevant and completely unnecessary flak he received after last year’s perfectly normal comment that he, as any competitive closer would, wanted to close an All-Star Game.  Honestly.  Yankee fans.  Nuff ced.

Wakefield did not pitch.  Not once.  Not even a third of an inning.  Not even to one batter.  To me, that’s cold.  Joe Maddon could’ve put him in somewhere if he really wanted to.

We won, 4-3, and we out-hit the National League, 8-5.  One error each.  RBIs for Joe Mauer, Adam Jones, and Josh Hamilton.  Bay and Youk both had hits.  In the eighth inning, Curtis Granderson tripled and then scored on Jones’s sac fly to break the tie.  Hamilton made a throwing error.

So basically what this whole thing comes down to, what this whole home run derby and All-Star Game and MVP Award and four-day break mean, is that we have secured home field advantage for October.  Technically it means that the American League team has home field advantage, but let’s not kid ourselves.  We all know who that American League team is going to be.  We also really needed this break; we’ll come back after these four days rested, rejuvenated, and ready to go claim that spot as “the” American League team.  The home run derby was a mildly interesting event and the All-Star Game was entertaining, but really it determines something very important.  And something tells me we’ll be very thankful for this victory come the postseason.  Congratulations to the American League All-Stars on your thirteenth straight victory.  You earned it, and we thank you.  Seriously.

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