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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Coello’

The first game of the series was finally rained out on Friday after a prolonged delay.  So we had a doubleheader yesterday.  I’m pretty sure that long delay on Friday had something to do with the fact that the Yankees did not want to have to play a doubleheader when they’re trying to keep themselves in top form for the postseason.  Yet another confirmation that Red Sox Nation has friends in very high places.

The first game was preceded by Thanks, Mike Night, a ceremony honoring Mikey Lowell, one of the classiest men the game has ever seen, ever.  Standing ovations, signs, a message printed on the Green Monster.  He had his family, his current and former teammates, and the Red Sox brass on hand.  He received a cooler of stone crabs from the Marlins, a hundred-thousand-dollar check from the Sox to his foundation, his very own third base from the field, and a number twenty-five Fenway seat.  And this is what he had to say to us:

You know, I’m kind of at a loss for words to kind of explain the emotions I’ve felt over the last five years with respect to the support and the positive responses I’ve gotten from Red Sox fans.  I think it’s your passion and your knowledge for baseball that I’ll truly miss, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget.  So I just want to thank God for allowing me the privilege and the opportunity to wear this jersey, to play in this ballpark, to represent the city of Boston and to share so many memories with all of you.  Thank you very much.

He really appreciated his time here.  He did a lot for us, and we’ll never forget that.  He wanted a home run, but he was perfectly content to end it with a base hit and tip his cap on his own terms, as Tito said.  And that’s exactly what he did.  At thirty-six years old, he retires with a .278 career batting average, 223 home runs, 952 RBIs, and 1,601 games played.  And from winning the 2007 World Series MVP Award to not complaining when he was demoted to the bench, he never complained.  We’ll miss you, buddy.

When the game did get underway, it was Wake with the ball.  Wake will most likely retire after next season.  Those are two class acts right there.  The only thing that both Lowell and Wakefield have ever done is do whatever was asked of them for this team, no matter what it was or how different it was from their expectations of what their roles would be like.  Wake’s retirement is going to be hard to take.  It seems like he’s been here forever, and it seemed like he would never leave.

But we’ll worry about that next year.  In the present, he did not pitch well at all.  He only lasted five innings, he gave up five runs on seven hits, he walked three, and he struck out six.  He threw ninety-four pitches, sixty-four of which were strikes.  All three of his pitches – the knuckleball, curveball, and fastball – were effectively thrown for strikes, and his zone was packed, but he just didn’t have it.  It’s hard to explain the cause of a knuckleballer’s bad day because nobody really knows anything that goes on with a knuckleball, but there are days when he’s on and days when he’s off, and yesterday he was off.  He was set to throw the sixth, but Tito took him out before the inning started so everyone could salute him.  He definitely deserved that after what he’s been through this year.

Meanwhile, Lowell smacked a double off the Monster to bat in two runs in his very first at-bat of the game, which was obviously incredibly appropriate.  Lowell scored on Nava’s single in the third and hit a single of his own in the fifth in what would be his last Major League at-bat.  He finished his final game two for two with a double, a single, and a walk.  And I’m telling you, when he walked off that field, Major League Baseball lost a prince among men.

In the seventh, Anderson, who replaced Lowell, scored on a wild pitch.  In the eighth, Patterson scored on another wild pitch.  And at that point it was tied at five.  The bullpen had done an excellent job holding the fort.  Tito pretty much used everybody: Hill, Bowden, Richardson, Coello, Bard, and then Paps.  And that’s where it got ugly.

Paps took the loss by allowing an unearned run in the tenth, only because you can’t give a loss to a position player.  It wasn’t at all his fault.  It was Hall’s fault.  Paps had cornered Jeter into hitting a dribbler to the right of the mound.  When Paps went for it, it went past him.  No big deal.  That’s why you have infielders to cover you.  The problem was that Hall tried and failed miserably to barehand it.  He reached for it, and it just wasn’t there.  It looked like he was reaching for air.  Gardner scored, and that was the end of it.

But make no mistake; just desserts would be coming in the nightcap.  Dice-K had the ball, but it wasn’t his best night either.  He also only lasted five innings.  He gave up four runs, only two of which were earned, on three hits while walking five and striking out six with 104 pitches, only fifty-seven of which were strikes.  His two-seam and curveball were missing something.  His cutter, changeup, four-seam, and slider were good.  But his command wasn’t there, and he threw thirty pitches in the first inning alone, so you knew it was going to be a short, or should I say long, night for him.  He finishes the 2010 season, his fourth with us, nine and six with a 4.69 ERA in twenty-five starts.

Atchison allowed two more runs after that, and Okajima and Manuel pitched well, with Manuel getting the win.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

All the regulars had the night off.  Anderson hit an RBI single in the first.  Lopez homered in the third.  Nava scored on Burnett’s fielding error in the fourth.  Kalish scored on Navarro’s sac fly in the sixth.  Nava hit an RBI single and Kalish scored on a bases-loaded walk in the eighth.  (It was Cash on eleven pitches for his first RBI since being reacquired on July 1.) And we were all tied up again at six.

At that point I’m thinking we need to win this one.  That’s all there is to it.  We just need to win.

In the bottom of the tenth, Hall clubbed a double off the Monster.  He moved to third on Cash’s sac bunt.  Then Patterson singled to center field with one out.  Hall scored.  It was a walkoff.  There was chasing and mobbing and general celebrating because we beat the Evil Empire and made it that much harder for them to win the division.  But more importantly, we won.  We won this one for ourselves.  And you know what? It felt good.

On the injury front, we have more of them.  Honestly, at this point it’s just rubbing salt in it.  Scutaro is out for the rest of the season, which at this point consists of one game and one game only, due to an inflamed right rotator cuff.  Buchholz is also out for the rest of the season with lower back stiffness.  Beltre has been out of the series completely, but that’s because he went home to California for the birth of his third child.  Congratulations to the Beltre family! Beltre, by the way, has a ten-million-dollar player option, but I would be extremely surprised if he exercises that.  He’s not going to.  He’s going to become a free agent.

So we split the day.  We worked a lot; the last time we played two extra-inning games on the same day was July 17, 1966 against the Kansas City Athletics.  There was no way we were going to spend eight hours and eighteen minutes playing baseball in one day and not win in the end.

Now we’re down to it.  The last game of the season.  This afternoon at 1:30PM.  Our last stand.  Our last chance to make an impression, go out with a bang, exit with dignity, and leave our mark on 2010.  Lackey’s got the ball.  Let’s finish this right.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin
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That was terrible.  Nobody deserved a twentieth win more than Lester, but not when Lester pitches like that.  Last night’s loss was nobody’s fault but his own.  The final score was 2-8, and one could possibly argue that the offense had something to do with it because the offense should have scored more runs.  Obviously we want the offense to score as many runs as possible, but for a true ace, and certainly for Lester, there have been times when two runs were more than enough.  So I’m discounting that argument.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we all wanted so badly to see Lester gift-wrap Chicago.  But Lester blew this one himself.  He got rocked.  Hard.

He was nothing short of abysmal.  That’s something you don’t see too often.  He only lasted four innings and in that time managed to give up eight runs on nine hits, including two home runs, one of which was a grand slam, while walking five and striking out five.  He threw ninety-nine pitches over the course of those four innings, only fifty-two of which were strikes.  There have been times where that exact pitch count would get him through entire games.

That grand slam, by the way, was the first he’s allowed in his career.  He left a fastball up.  That’s pretty much what happens when you leave a fastball up.

His command was missing in action.  His pitches were remarkably ineffective; all of his offspeeds, his sinker, slider, changeup, and curveball, were hardly ever thrown for strikes.  His cut fastball was conspicuously missing something.  And he threw a whopping thirty-eight pitches in the fourth.  He threw another eight in the fifth, when he issued a four-pitch walk before he was finally removed.  His release point was fine, but his zone looked barren.  He had good movement, although movement without command is rarely a good thing.

The bullpen, however, was impeccable last night.  They tossed five innings of scoreless, two-hit ball with two walks and two K’s.  Robert Manuel, Robert Coello, Rich Hill, and Michael Bowden.  It was one of those days where the bullpen should have started and the starter shouldn’t even have relieved; he should have just taken the day off and let a pitching machine fill in because it looked like batting practice out there.

Our two runs scored courtesy of V-Mart.  He hit a two-run shot, his twentieth long ball of the season and twelfth from the right, deep to left.  At the time, that shot gave us a 2-1 lead.  Six of Lester’s eight runs were allowed in only two innings: four in the fourth and two in the fifth before he left.  He unraveled in a hurry.

The only other highlight was the serious leather-flashing we had going on.  Anderson’s leaping grab of a line drive in the fourth, Kalish’s catch of a fly literally at the wall in the sixth, and McDonald’s diving catch in the eighth were all defensive gems.

I should mention that the game was delayed in the bottom of the sixth because the neighborhood around US Cellular Field lost power.  I’ve seen some game delays, but I’ve never seen one like that before.  It was both annoying and interesting.

That’s basically all there is to it.  Lester had the chance to become the first twenty-game-winning southpaw since Mel Parnell in 1953, and he blew it.  Nevertheless, nobody will argue the fact that his season was basically the opposite of Beckett’s.  His season was spectacular.  He had his usual rough April, but after that he basically cruised.  He finishes nineteen and nine with a 3.25 ERA and 225 K’s over 208 innings.  And we can only expect even more greatness from him next year.

Today is the first day of October, and tonight we’re starting the final series of the season at home against New York.  Wow.  What an agonizing thing to say.  Either way, the weather isn’t great, so just remember: revenge is a dish best served cold.  Let’s do this.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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