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Posts Tagged ‘Scott Atchison’

Oh, man.  Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man.  That was a terrible loss.  It was absolutely crushing.  Crushing, crushing, crushing.  It doesn’t get much more devastating than that.  To hold on and do everything right (I can say that because the only error we made did not result in damage, luckily; it wouldn’t have made a difference, as it turned out, all else being equal, but at least we can hold our heads high the way the score turned out) and play so well until the very last possible minute and then give it all up will bring the pain every time.

The matchup was exceptionally even, but I don’t think anyone thought it would be going into it, which is a huge credit to the pitchers we sent out there.  Morales was nothing short of stunning, both literally and figuratively.  He pitched a full seven shutout innings.  He gave up only three runs, walked two, and struck out seven.  He threw 109 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  He threw a really nasty curveball as well as a nasty two-seam fastball, and his four-seam and changeup were also fantastic.  He took advantage of his arsenal, mixing pitches well and varying speeds.  He was efficient for the most part as well; he threw eleven pitches in the first, nine in the second, twenty in the third, nineteen in the fourth, eighteen in the fifth, thirteen in the sixth, and nineteen in the seventh.

The first and second were his only one-two-three innings.  He gave up his first walk in the third and his second in the fifth.  He gave up a single in the fourth, sixth, and seventh, his only inning in which he had to deal with more than one baserunner thanks to a missed catch by Gonzalez, which put runners at the corners with two out.

Miller had himself a one-two-three eighth inning.  It was Atchison who took the loss for giving up the walkoff RBI single that ended it all.  He began the inning with a flyout but followed it with a double and then an intentional walk.  And then John Jaso pinch-hit for Miguel Olivo and singled on the first pitch of the at-bat to right field, scoring one run to win the game.

If that had been all, the loss would have been crushing but not so devastating because we would have known that we tried our best and it simply wasn’t enough that day against the Mariners.  But it doesn’t end there.  Ross threw to the plate to try to get the runner, and Salty had it and was ready to tag and go into extra innings.  He was ready.  He had the ball and he was in position and everything with ample time and distance to spare.  There wasn’t even a doubt that no run would score.  And if the play had gone according to plan, who knows? Maybe we’d still be out there playing baseball.

But no.  As Salty tried to make the tag, he lost the ball.  I saw it with my own eyes, and even as it was happening, I couldn’t even believe it.  I didn’t want to believe it.  It was one of the more pathetic things I’ve ever seen; Salty didn’t even know he lost the ball until after he applied the tag and saw that the run had scored.  Only then did he notice that the ball was lying several feet from the plate.

Meanwhile, the offense was completely and totally stymied by Felix Hernandez, who pitched a complete game shutout and held us to five hits and one walk.  We struck out thirteen times, which tied a career high for Hernandez.

We went down in order in the first, second, fifth, sixth, and eighth.  We singled in the third, fourth, seventh, and ninth.  Our best opportunities to score were the two innings in which we somehow managed to put two runners on the basepaths: the third, when we had two on with two out thanks to two singles which were for naught when Pedroia ended the threat by hitting a ball too hard to left center field, and the ninth, when we had two on with one out thanks to a single followed by our one walk, which went to Salty.  And then Gonzalez stepped up to the plate and was quickly 3-0.  The situation looked good.  Then, all of a sudden, he swung through a fastball and then fouled off four straight pitches.  So the count was full, and all of Red Sox Nation was hanging on the edge of their seats.  And of course it ended very anticlimactically: with a flyout on the ninth pitch of a valiant at-bat.  And you can thank the spaciousness of the outfield at Safeco for that.

So the final score was indeed 1-0, and it was the most intense pitcher’s duel I’ve seen in a very, very long time.  I mean, it was a real, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel.  It had to be when the final score is 1-0.  But it didn’t have to end the way it did.  Even if we would have lost eventually anyway, it didn’t have to be decided by something so humiliating as simply having lost the ball.  It was actually literally just horrifying.

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Now, that’s more like it! Especially with Dice-K pitching well! Admittedly, he didn’t pitch long, but let’s remember that our expectations unfortunately shouldn’t be too high at this point.  But we can celebrate coming back in the late innings to win it; it shows resilience, strength, and a never-say-die attitude.  We needed a win like this to keep our momentum going, our spirits up, and our record intact.

He pitched five and two-thirds innings and gave up one run on six hits.  That one run was the only run the Jays would score all night.  In the first, Dice-K gave up a double, followed by a fielder’s choice.  Then there was a popout followed by an RBI single, and that was it.  (Incidentally, Middlebrooks made another error that allowed a runner to advance to third on the following play.  Fortunately, it didn’t result in any damage, and all else being equal, even if it did we would have won anyway, but still.) Dice-K also walked one and struck out five.  He had a killer cutter last night that was thrown for strikes almost eighty percent of the time.  Fortunately he threw mostly cutters and four-seams, which were also thrown mostly for strikes.  He threw some curveballs, which honestly were horrendous, as well as a handful of two-seams, changeups, and sliders, which were alright.  He also threw a lot of pitches; I guess some things never change.  He needed one hundred pitches to get through his outing.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get the win.  When he exited the game, we were down by one because we hadn’t scored anything and wouldn’t until the seventh, when we saw three different relievers and sent seven batters to the plate.  We almost scored in the sixth, though.  With one out, Pedroia walked and tried to come home on a double by Papi but was out at the plate.

Anyway, the seventh inning began with two quick outs followed by a solo shot by Salty on his second pitch, a fastball down and away.  He put it in the first row of Monster seats and tied the game with one swing; it’s always nice when you can do it efficiently with one swing of the bat.  Kalish then came in to pinch-hit for McDonald and doubled.  Nava then came in to pinch-hit for Lillibridge and was hit by a pitch.  Then Aviles walked to load the bases.  And then Pedroia singled in two, with Aviles out at third.

We scored two more in the eighth to cement the win.  Papi doubled, Ross singled, Papi scored on a double by Gonzalez, and Ross scored on a sac fly by Middlebrooks.

Seriously, how many of you thought we were going to lose this one by a score of 1-0? Games like this show you that you can never count us out.  It’s good to have a reminder of that every once in a while.  Even though ideally you hope we’re never in a situation where we have to come from behind.

Atchison pitched the last out of the sixth as well as the first two of the seventh, Miller pitched the last out of the seventh and picked up the win, Padilla pitched the eighth and picked up a hold, and Aceves pitched the ninth.  The final score was 5-1.  We are now in sole possession of second-to-last place.  If we win today, we will have one nine of our last eleven and our fifth consecutive series.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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On June 12, we beat the Marlins, 2-1, in an obviously close game.  Buchholz was a big part of that; he pitched seven innings and gave up only one run on five hits, while walking one and striking out two.  One of those five hits was a solo shot in the seventh.  Padilla received a hold for the seventh, and Aceves got the save in the ninth.  We scored both of our runs via small ball in the seventh; Youk grounded out, Middlebrooks singled, Gonzalez flied out, Shoppach doubled in Middlebrooks, and Aviles singled in Shoppach.  We completed our series against the Marlins with a win as lopsided as that one was close, winning by a final score of 10-2.  Doubront delivered unquestionably his best start of the season, pitching a full seven innings and giving up two runs on three hits while walking one and striking out nine.  One of those three hits was a solo shot with two out in the sixth.  Padilla, Miller, and Albers combined to pitch the rest of the game.  And our hits were really busy; Aviles scored on a groundout in the third, Papi homered in the fourth, three consecutive singles and a sac fly in the sixth yielded two more, and we put up a six-spot in the eighth, when we sent eleven batters to the plate! Punto doubled, four straight singles yielded three runs, Middlebrooks got hit, Salty scored another with a sac fly, Sweeney lined out, and two straight singles scored our last run.

On June15, we started our series against the Cubs, and I am both relieved and pleased to say that Dice-K had himself a phenomenal start! He pitched six innings and gave up three runs on four hits while walking three and striking out three.  He threw ninety-three pitches, sixty-two of which were strikes.  Atchison and Melancon finished the game on the mound.  But we were shut out and lost, 3-0.  We had better luck in the next game, which we won, 4-3.  Lester went six and two-thirds innings and allowed three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out eight; he gave up a two-run shot with one out in the seventh.  Salty homered with Papi on in the fourth, Middlebrooks singled in another run in the sixth, and then Podsednik singled in our final run in the seventh.  We ended up winning the rubber game by a final score of 7-4.  Beckett was out with inflammation in his right shoulder, so all those times I called for the bullpen to start rather than the starter finally paid off.  Morales pitched five innings and gave up two runs on four hits while walking none and striking out five; all in all, I’d say he was spectacular given the circumstances, including the fact that it was his first start since 2009.  He threw eighty pitches.  Albers then received a blown save for giving up the tying run; Miller, Melancon, and Atchison held the fort until Aceves allowed a run in the ninth.  In the first, Pedroia doubled and Papi singled for two, Papi led off the fourth with a solo shot, we scored three in the seventh on a single and two sacrifices, and we scored one in the eighth on a force out.

We played the Marlins again starting on Monday, this time at home, and this time we swept them.  The first game’s score was 7-5; Buchholz gave up five runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out three.  Albers, Miller, and Padilla performed well in middle relief, and Aceves picked up the save.  Papi hit a two-run shot in the first, Shoppach hit a two-run shot in the second, Ross hit a solo shot in the fourth, Gonzalez hit a sac fly in the fifth, and Middlebrooks doubled another in in the sixth.  The second game was a 15-5 blowout.  Doubront gave up four runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out four; Mortensen gave up one run, and Melancon pitched a shutout inning.  Aviles hit a three-run shot in the second to start the scoring.  Ross hit a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double in the third for three more runs.  We blew it wide open in the fourth; Kalish singled in one, Papi smacked a grand slam, and Salty hit a solo shot! Punto scored on a wild pitch in the fifth, and Middlebrooks hit a two-run shot in the eighth.  We barely won a nailbiter to complete the sweep.  Dice-K gave up four runs on four hits over five and a third innings; he walked one and struck out four.  Miller gave up one run, and it was Atchison who picked up the win and Aceves the save.  We got on the board in the fourth when a single and a sac fly brought in two, and we tied it up in the fifth with a single.  Then they led by two until the eighth, when Middlebrooks hit a two-run shot and Nava singled in a third run.  After Aceves’s performance, we had the sweep in hand.

After the Marlins, we hosted the Braves.  We lost on Friday, 4-1, but it wasn’t for lack of starting pitching.  Lester pitched seven innings and gave up three runs on ten hits while walking one and striking out five.  This time it was Melancon who allowed a run while Mortensen recorded the game’s last out successfully.  We scored our only run in the eighth on a double by Nava.  We won on Saturday, 8-4; Morales started again and was fantastic.  He gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits over six innings while walking one and striking out eight; he threw eighty-six pitches.  Atchison, Miller, Padilla, and Aceves all appeared in relief.  Gonzalez singled in one and Middlebrooks doubled in another in the first, Pedroia doubled in two in the second, Middlebrooks homered in the third, Ross doubled in another in the fifth, and Nava singled in two in the seventh.  We ended up winning the series yesterday with a final score of 9-4.  Cook started in place of Buchholz, who was hospitalized due to a gastrointestinal problem.  Cook gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits over five innings.  He walked none and struck out none.  Albers allowed another run in relief; other than that, Miller, Atchison, and Melancon performed well and took care of the rest of the game.  Ross hit a three-run shot in the fourth, followed by a solo shot by Gonzalez.  Middlebrooks brought another one in with a sac fly in the fifth, followed by another home run by Ross, this one for two runs.  Nava doubled in another run in the sixth, and Youk tripled in our final run in the seventh.

It turned out that that run would be the last that Youk would bring home and third base would be the last base that Youk would defend and that game would be the last that Youk would play in a Boston uniform.  He was traded yesterday with cash to cover the remainder of this year’s salary before that at-bat to the Other Sox for utility man Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, who the team has been scouting apparently since his college days.

Even before the at-bat, the crowd knew it was probably their last time seeing this phenomenal player playing for them; they had already given him a well-deserved standing ovation before his first at-bat in the second, and Youk had already returned it with a tip of his helmet.  In classic dirt-dog fashion, Youk legged out that triple, admittedly with a little help from the Braves, and went into the slide, and the standing ovation that he received afterwards was huge, thunderous, and extremely well-deserved.  Punto came out to pinch-run, since Ben didn’t want him injured, and after an emotional hug, as the two have been friends for years and years through Athletes Performance in Arizona, Youk returned to the dugout.  He tipped his helmet and was greeted by everyone at the entrance for more hugs and then emerged for a curtain call for both the crowd and his teammates, initiated by none other than Big Papi himself.

On the day, Youk went two for four with the triple and the one RBI.  Obviously, he also walked once and was involved in a controversial defensive play in the third during which there was some concern that he may have sustained an injury but flashed his characteristic leather throughout.  Also obviously though, there is more to a player than his final at-bat for a ballclub.  Youk was more to us than a triple and some good plays at third.  We picked him in the eighth round of the First-Year Player Draft in 2001 and raised him ourselves on the farm, and his first year in the Majors culminated in a World Series ring, our first in eighty-six years; with this trade, Papi is now the only member of that team still playing for us today.  Three years later, he added another in 2007.  He finishes his career in Boston with a batting average of .287, an on-base percentage of .388, 728 strikeouts, twenty-six stolen bases in forty attempts, and 961 hits.  Of those, 239 were doubles, seventeen were triples, and 133 were homers.  He batted in 564 runs and scored 594.  He played in 953 games and accumulated 3,352 at-bats.  Last but not least offensively, two of the stats for which he is most renowned throughout Major League Baseball, he walked 494 times and was hit by eighty-six pitches.  Now that’s a combination of eyes and patience if I’ve ever seen it.

In addition to his offense, the second aspect to Youk’s incredible game as his fielding, and this was where his versatility really shone.  Youk was a fixture at the corners.  Both of them.  It is fitting that he ended his Boston career at the bag where he began it, but he will be remembered as someone who routinely crossed the diamond without a word or a hiccup.  His fielding percentage at third in 362 games and 320 starts is .966; his fielding percentage at first in 594 games and 546 starts is .997.  In his career thus far, he has also played second base, left field, and right field and has made 986 assists, 4,788 putouts, and only forty-four errors.

There are all sorts of comparisons to be made between his stats and those of other greats the game has seen, but he was such a unique player that he shines in his own right, which brings me to the third and final aspect of Youk’s game, which was his character and leadership off the field.  As is the case so often for veterans who have played here, he was an extremely classy player.  He gave everything he had for every single at-bat at the plate and every single play in the field; he was completely invested in the well-being of the team, as evidenced by his visible and often physical expressions of frustration at his recent lack of production.  Every extra-base hit he legged out, every diving play he made, every walk he worked, and every batting helmet he threw were all the result of a fierce desire to see this team succeed.  He was a terrific mentor to the younger guys, including his replacement even as he was conscious of the fact that he was being replaced, and had a fierce, determined, and committed will.  He earned every All-Star vote he ever received and represented us three times as someone who really embodied the spirit of what it means to play here.  He was committed to his teammates as well, as evidenced in their extremely heartfelt goodbyes.  Pedroia said he loves the guy, as do well all.

We all knew this was coming.  Youk was being sidelined by Middlebrooks constantly, and the lineup was all convoluted to try to fit him in, and he didn’t exactly get along with Bobby V., and the rumors were steady.  But putting all of that aside, it speaks volumes about the type of player but also the type of guy that Youk was that after a big win that gave us the best record we’ve had all year, the mood in the clubhouse was sad, somber, and serious.  Youk helped us win two World Series championships and gave his all to this team, this city, and this game.  To say that he will be missed is an extreme understatement.  Youk, we salute you.

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That was a tough loss.  A really tough loss.  Not only because we just got swept but also because we could have had it in the bag, and it should have been us celebrating a win.  Again, it was a situation where the two teams were remarkably evenly matched.  The fact that this other evenly matched time is Washington is still going to take some serious getting used to.  Meanwhile, we have nothing to content ourselves with but the hope that we’ll win our next game.

Lester pitched phenomenally well.  Unfortunately, so did Jordan Zimmermann.  Lester pitched seven innings; Zimmermann pitched seven innings.  Lester gave up three runs on six hits; Zimmermann gave up three runs on seven hits.  Lester walked two and struck out nine; Zimmermann walked two and struck out seven.  Lester threw 107 pitches; Zimmermann threw 105 pitches.  Lester threw sixty-seven pitches; Zimmermann threw seventy pitches.

Washington struck first; Lester’s second pitch of the game was hit for a double, which eventually turned into a run on a groundout.  Lester had a great one-two-three second inning and got a crucial called strikeout to end the third with the bases loaded.

We scored our first run in the third; Punto led it off with a walk, Podsednik singled him to third, and he scored on a force out by Pedroia.  Papi led off the fourth with a solo shot into the bullpen on a fastball.  It was a wallop of a swing in classic Papi fashion.  And at the time, it gave us a one-run lead.  Unfortunately it wouldn’t last.

Lester had a one-two-three fifth and sixth.  We had two on base in the fifth with whom we did nothing, and we went down in order in the sixth.  Lester gave up his last two runs in the seventh; he gave up two consecutive singles to start it and then obtained two quick outs before allowing a double that scored two.

We scored our third and final run in the seventh as well; Sweeney and Punto hit back-to-back singles, McDonald hit a sac bunt to move them over, and then Sweeney scored on a double by Podsednik.

Atchison replaced Lester and had himself a one-two-three eighth; so far, so good.  We had two on base in the eighth and did nothing with that opportunity.

And then everything was ruined in the ninth.  Aceves replaced Atchison and blew it completely; he took the loss.  He induced a flyout, a walk, a strikeout, and then a double that scored one.  The inning ended on a popout.  Aside from one walk in the ninth, we didn’t do anything to come back.  We lost, 4-3.  Podsednik went two for five, and Papi went three for four with the double and home run.  Lester received a no-decision, which is fine, because he didn’t deserve the loss.  Aceves deserved every bit of it.

I never thought I’d see the day when we’d be relieved to get on the road, but it wouldn’t be the first time this year.  Sad, sad, sad.

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We lost to the Nationals.  The Nationals are like the Orioles: historically terrible but somehow good this year, at least for now.  Seriously, what is up with this baseball season?

Doubront, who has been arguably our most consistent starter this year, had a bad day.  To be precise, it was probably his worst start of the year.  He only pitched four innings and threw eighty-two pitches.  So you know it wasn’t his best work.  He gave up six runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out one.  He gave up three runs in the third via small ball and three more in the fourth via small ball plus a long ball.

He just didn’t throw well.  His four-seam, changeup, and cutter were weak; his two-seam was phenomenal and his curveball was fantastic, but he threw roughly the same amount of the former three as the latter two, and when half a starting pitcher’s pitches are off, it’s not always good enough that half of them are on.  As with his pitches, half his game was good and half was bad; he threw fifteen pitches in the first, thirteen in the second, thirty in the third, and twenty-four in the fourth.  He’d thrown a whole game’s worth of pitches before half the game was over.

And then Albers came in and pitched the fifth and most of the sixth, when Hill took over with two out and allowed his inherited runner to score.  Hill was then replaced by Atchison with two out in the seventh.  Atchison pitched through the eighth, and Miller pitched the ninth.

We scored in the second; Papi walked, Sweeney singled, and both came home on a double by Aviles.  Gonzalez led off the eighth with a solo shot on a sinker, the fourth pitch in the at-bat, which he rocketed to straightaway center.  In the third, he was robbed of what looked every bit like a beautiful solo shot into the bullpen in the third with one out by Xavier Nady, who reached into the bullpen for it.  But he got all of this one in the eighth for the two hundredth homer of his career.  He totally just golfed it out of there.  He made sure nobody could catch that.  And lastly, Punto walked in the ninth, advanced to second on fielding indifference, and scored on a double by Nava.

We had the bases loaded in the sixth with one out but nothing materialized.  That isn’t to say that the incident was not without its drama.  Youk was called out on strikes to end the inning and argued balls and strikes with home plate umpire Doug Eddings.  Youk was angry, heated, and vocal and was summarily ejected.  He did not go down quietly.  Bobby V. came out to talk to Eddings and looked like he had no idea what was going on.  Honestly, the pitch was low.  Youk should never have struck out; he should have walked, and had he walked, not only would the bases have still been loaded, but we would have scored another run.  The pitch was low.  And it’s easy to know that the pitch was low because, when the catcher caught it, he elevated his glove so it would look like it wasn’t low.  The whole thing was shamefully ridiculous; it’s not about whether we would have gone on to win or lose because of that one run; it’s about the fact that it’s the players’ jobs to play and the umpires’ jobs to umpire, not to interfere.

Anyway, we had two on in the seventh with two out and nothing materialized.  The innings I’ve mentioned were all the innings in which we had at least one runner on base.  So in every inning during which we did not have a runner on base, we went down in order.

So we lost, 7-4.  Nava and Gonzalez each went two for five.  Defensive highlights include a tricky catch by Sweeney for the first out of the third, during which he ran and then slid down at just the right time for it; an almost identical catch by Sweeney to his other side for the second out of the seventh; and a tricky catch by Salty for the first out of the fifth, during which he reached into the crowd on the third base side.

Mostly, though, we just lost.

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