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Posts Tagged ‘Royal Rooters’

So, last night we were officially eliminated.  For the first time since 2006 and the second time in the last eight years.  The Evil Empire and the Rays both clinched.  It was torturous.  Every time the Yankees scored another run, you still held out hope but knew that it would be dramatically less and less likely for Toronto to come back.  Sabathia pitched eight innings; Rivera pitched the ninth.  Technically, we should have been prepared for this.  Technically, we should have been expecting this.  But technically is technically, and in reality, the Royal Rooter in each of us told us to believe no matter how steep the odds were.  And to be completely honest with you, last weekend when we were leading the Yankees on Sunday night, it looked like we had it in the bag.  It looked like we were going to go to the playoffs.  But it turned out that that game would give us the only taste of the thrills of October that we would experience this year.  So the moral of the story is that you can prepare and brace yourself all you want, but when elimination comes, you’re still going to hurt big time.

I don’t know if the fact that it isn’t our fault is the best or worst part of it.  We had no control over outfielders colliding with Beltre’s knee, with sprains, with broken bones, with mono, with any of that.  There was nothing we could have done differently to have prevented it.  It’s the nature of the game that injuries will happen.  It’s not necessarily the nature of the game that so many will befall a team at once, and we can feel good and proud of the fact that we are where we are.  It’s a miracle that we were even in the running this long when you consider the fact that our disabled list this year was itself an All-Star team.  And for that, there is something seriously and horribly wrong with the world if Terry Francona does not win Manager of the Year this year.  But I just feel like, with all the injuries, the 2010 Red Sox never got a chance to show anyone what they were working with.  If we had stayed healthy, we would have won the World Series.  Before the All-Star break, before the onslaught of injuries seriously hit, we were about to land ourselves in first place.  We had started to play great baseball.  Then we lost all the guys who were playing that great baseball, many of them for the rest of the season.  Ellsbury played in only eighteen games this year.  Cameron played in forty-eight.  Pedroia played in seventy-five.  Youk played in 102.  All of them ended up out for the year.  The whole situation just begs the huge question of what might have been had we stayed healthy.

One thing’s for sure: next weekend, I hope we do untold damage to the Evil Empire’s hopes of even thinking about winning the division.  I hope we go out with dignity and give the world a taste of what they can expect from us next year, because next year we’re winning the World Series.  We’ll have the overwhelming majority of the team coming back.  In 2006, we didn’t make the playoffs because the team was injured and we won the World Series the next year.  So if we were even more injured this year, it stands to reason that next year we’ll be even more dominant than we were in 2007.  I’m psyched.  Meanwhile, I hurt.  It’s going to be a long, cold winter, folks.  A long, cold, baseball-less winter.  I feel crushed.  Seriously.  That’s the only way I can explain it.  It just…hurts.

It also hurts because, for some guys, these are the last Major League games they’ll ever play.  Lowell already announced his retirement after this season, and Tek, who has never played a Major League game for any other team, wants to keep playing but apparently it’s unclear whether the front office will be interested.  I personally think that Tek should stay with us as some sort of coach instead of going somewhere like Kansas City or Baltimore or Pittsburgh, but if he wants to play, he wants to play.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  But he’s the backbone of this team both on and off the field.  He wears that “C” for a reason, and I just wish that, for guys like Lowell and Tek, who should go out in blazing glory, and obviously also for the whole team and all of Red Sox Nation, that we had more baseball to play.

And as if last night couldn’t possibly have gotten any worse, our bullpen blew our lead against the Other Sox.

Lackey tossed six frames.  He gave up two runs on three hits, walked two, and struck out five.  That’s decent.  He used 108 pitches to do it.  That’s slightly inefficient.  He used five pitches; four of them, the fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup, were thrown very effectively for strikes.  His slider wasn’t so great, but he didn’t use too many of those.  He started the game by throwing twenty-three pitches in the first inning, so you knew he wouldn’t last that long.  Even so, he one-hit Chicago over the first three innings.  When he did pitch, he pitched very well and put us in position to win.  This was the fourth time in his last five starts that he’s done so.  So it’s also sad that the season is ending so early for players like Lackey, Lester, Buchholz, Belre, V-Mart, and Papi, guys that are on hot streaks and having fantastic years who could have unleashed a world of dominance in the playoffs.

The offense didn’t disappoint.  In the first, Lowrie doubled in Beltre.  In the third, Drew smashed a solo shot, and V-Mart scored on Beltre’s sac fly.  In the sixth, Papi smashed a solo shot.

But that would be it for us.  The Other Sox would score one run in each of the next three innings.  Atchison allowed a run via Hill.  Hill allowed his inherited runner to score and received a hold.  Bard allowed a run and received a blown save; he opened the eighth with an eleven-pitch walk to who but Manny Ramirez.  Bowden allowed the walkoff and took the loss.  There was a one-out single, which chased Bowden.  Richardson came on, and there were two steals to third and a walk.  Then Fox came on, and there was a single that barely eluded Nava, and there was a walkoff, and there was a loss, but it didn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things anymore because, by that time, New York had already won.

We have five games left in the 2010 season: two more in Chicago, and three at home against the Yankees this weekend.  It’s going to be Beckett today and Lester tomorrow, and we’ll have to wait for the official starter schedule for the weekend.  Let’s make these last five games, five games to remember.  The team can relax now and just have fun playing the game.  The Nation can watch every minute of baseball we can to see the team off for the winter.  And let’s just go out there and provide a preview of 2011.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis
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Not really what I had in mind when I pictured the start of the second half.  To be honest, I pictured some sort of decisive slugfest, something that would resemble the start we wanted to the first half but didn’t get.  Instead, we lost by five runs.

Wakefield allowed seven of those runs, only six of which were earned, on eight hits in the grand total of two innings for which he lasted.  Six in the first on nine hits – three straight hits scored the first run and then six straight hits, culminating in a home run into the Monster ended it – and one in the third without recording an out.  No walks, two K’s, and a loss.  This was his shortest start since giving up seven runs in one and two-thirds in September 2008, also against the Rangers, interestingly enough.  And he was efficient.  He managed to allow all that damage with just thirty-four pitches, about thirty of which were knuckleballs.  He threw twenty-four of them in the first inning alone.  His release point wasn’t a point at all; it was more like a line, and he’d release somewhere on this line.  His horizontal and vertical movement were both off the charts.  It was clear that he didn’t have his usual control over the knuckleball; he left a few of them up.  Usually batters like to swing at the first pitch without really seeing it well, they make some sort of contact and put something on the ground for an easy out.  But somehow last night, as they did in September 2008, the Rangers not only swung at the first pitch but kept on swinging and put some hits together and got something going.  That was really the problem.  Wake didn’t issue any free passes; the ball was in the zone, and to be honest with you when the game started but before all the runs started scoring, it looked like he’d have it locked.  But it was strictly the hits that got him in trouble.  It’s rare to see that be a problem when he gets aggressive with the strike zone.

By the way, I would just like to say that I agree with Tito completely: Young struck out.  That was not a foul tip.  And we know this because after Young swung, he ran, which is what you do when you swing through a ball in that situation.  If he really fouled it, he wouldn’t have started running.  So it wasn’t a foul tip.  It was a strikeout.  A strikeout that would’ve ended the inning before another five runs scored.  A strikeout that may have resulted in a victory of 2-1.  I’m just saying.

The final score was 7-2.  The natural deduction from that is that the offense didn’t have it, either.  And that deduction would be correct.  Drew went deep in the fourth completely into the first row of the Monster seats.  It was awesome.  Of his now eleven home runs on the year, he’s now hit ten off of righties.  He unleashed a world of power on that ball and sent it to the opposite field.  High inside fastball.  Perfect timing, beautiful swing, the works.  He’d finish the night two for four, the only multihit game in the lineup.  Then Nava bounced a single off Kinsler’s glove, Cameron got hit by a pitch, and it looked like we were going somewhere.  Naturally, Hall had to fly to center and Cash had to fly to right after that, and the rally died.  In a valiant attempt to redeem himself, Hall clubbed a homer of his own completely over the Monster in his next at-bat in the seventh.  It barely stayed fair.  Also an inside fastball.  Also perfect timing, a beautiful swing, the works.  Also the only event of that half of the inning.

That was Hall’s theme of the night: make a mistake and then make up for it.  He made an error in the third when he failed to handle Hamilton’s grounder, but then he made a fantastic diving catch in the fifth to rob Molina of a line drive.  He’s historically been most comfortable at third, but this was his first start there this year.  Beltre sat out as a precautionary measure.  He’ll likely start tonight.  By the way, Hall has now gone deep when starting the entire outfield and half the infield: second and third.

Speaking of diving catches, Cameron had a nice one in center in the first to rob Davis of a base hit.

Meanwhile, the bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings.  It’s almost like they were collectively the starter, and Wake was the rogue reliever who ruined everything.  How the tables have turned.  Manuel, Richardson, Atchison, and Ramirez.  Four hits, four walks, two K’s.  What an effort.  This was one of the better outings of the bullpen this year.  What a shame.

Neither the Yankees nor Tampa Bay played yesterday, so we extend our deficit by half a game.  Again, not what I had in mind.  At all.  In order to get a good taste in our mouths and start this second half off right, we must win tonight.  That means the offense will have to ramp it up and give Doubront some run support.  And Doubront will have to ramp it up and give us a quality start.  All possible.  We just need to execute.

But I’ll tell you about another let-down.  The Boston Globe posted a poll asking whether we’ll make the playoffs, and most voters said no.  That’s just terrible.  The Royal Rooters would be very displeased.  Not only are we Red Sox Nation and therefore must believe and keep the faith, but we also need to keep in mind that once the regulars return to the lineup, we’ll be able to inflict untold damage on the rest of the league.  We saw proof of that when we battled our way to within a game of first.  It’s possible.  We can do it.  We’ve seen it.  The second half just started only last night; let’s wait and see what happens when it really gets underway.

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