Posts Tagged ‘Scott Podsednik’

We lost again.  Not by eight runs, fortunately.  If you have to lose, it’s always good to lose with dignity.  Last night, we lost by only one run.  I guess you have to mix it up every once in a while to keep it interesting.  Overall, the game was very evenly matched on both sides from the pitching to the hitting.  But someone has to come out on top, and yesterday it was Baltimore.

Doubront turned in a great effort.  He pitched seven innings and gave up four runs, three earned, on seven hits while walking one and striking out ten.  He hit a batter in the second who scored two at-bats later on a single.  (It could have been worse; Doubront followed that hit batsman with a single, but thanks to a strong throw to third from the newly returned Ellsbury, the potential run turned into an out.) Doubront’s first batter of the fourth reached on an error and was one run in a two-run home run.  And then he gave up a solo shot to lead off the seventh.  All of the innings during which Doubront didn’t give up runs were very, very solid; he either faced three or four batters in each of them.  And Tazawa went one-two-three in the eighth.

Meanwhile, we didn’t score until the fifth, but when we did, we did it with a bang.  Gomez showed his patience at the plate and worked an eight-pitch walk, and then Salty stepped up to the plate.  He received two eighty-eight mile-per-hour four seam fastballs.  He fouled off the first one.  He launched the second one out toward right field for a huge two-run shot.

We scored again in the sixth; Ellsbury led off the inning with a single, Podsednik walked, Pedroia put runners at the corners with a force out, and Ross brought Ellsbury home with a sac fly that turned into a single thanks to a fielding error.  At that point, we’d tied the game at three.  Obviously it wouldn’t stay that way, and we wouldn’t be the ones scoring the winning run.

And those were all the runs we scored.  So we lost, 4-3.  This was Doubront’s last start of the year, and it really can be considered a quality start.  I have to say, he did well this year.  He showed that he can handle the workload.

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Last night’s game was awful, and the sad part is that it was over before it even practically got started.  Their first inning was as good as ours was bad, and that’s all the O’s needed to win.  It’s a sad, sad day when the outcome of an entire game is decided right out of the gate.

Obviously we batted first, and we scored one run.  Podsednik singled on the second pitch of the game, moved to second on a throwing error and third on a sac fly by Ciriaco, and scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.  It was a great example of manufacturing a run.  All we needed to have done was do it more.

Then Cook took the mound for the bottom of the first, and it didn’t take long to get a sense of how his start was going to go.  His very first pitch was hit  for a single.  Then he induced a groundout and gave up a two-run home run.  Then he induced another groundout and gave up a single, a walk, and another single to load the bases.  And then he allowed that most embarrassing scoring play: a grand slam.  A grand total of six runs were scored on a grand total of two swings.  We were down by five runs before the first inning was over.

After issuing two consecutive walks to start the second, Cook was replaced by Aceves, who pitched just fine until the fifth.  After getting the inning’s first two outs, Aceves gave up three consecutive doubles followed by a single, which resulted in three more runs scoring.  Pedro Beato then took the ball and pitched extremely well; both of his full innings were one-two-three.  Then Bard pitched the eighth which, except for a walk, was blemish-free.

Meanwhile, we didn’t score again for the rest of the game.  We didn’t even threaten for the rest of the game.  Seriously.  Podsednik’s single was our only hit.  That’s right; we were one single away from being no-hit by the Baltimore Orioles.  We haven’t been one-hit since 2009.  And we walked only twice; one belonged to Pedroia and the other to Nava.  The final score was 9-1.

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On last night’s loss menu, we served up the gut-wrenching extra-innings blow.  Or rather that’s what we were served.

In the first, Cook gave up a run thanks to a walk-steal-groundout-groundout combination.  We tied it up that same inning when Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway.  Neither team scored in the second or third.  The O’s went ahead in the fourth when Cook’s third pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot.  We put ourselves back on top that same inning when Aviles singled to lead off the bottom half and Danny Valencia hit a two-run shot on his second pitch, a curveball.  Not an easy pitch to homer on, so it was nice to see the kid have a keen eye.  Neither team scored in the fifth.  After securing the first out of the sixth on a strikeout, Cook gave up a single and a double and was then replaced by Hill.  Hill gave up a bases-clearing triple before securing the inning’s second out, at which point he was replaced by Mortensen.  Mortensen gave up a solo shot on his first pitch of the seventh.  Fortunately, we mounted a comeback effort in the bottom of the inning.  Podsednik doubled, Ciriaco walked, and Pedroia singled to load the bases with nobody out.  Unfortunately, we did just about the most pathetic thing you can do with the bases loaded and still score runs.  Ross and Lavarnway grounded out back-to-back, which brought in two runs.  At that point, we were within one, Breslow had pitched the top of the eighth, and we tied it up at six the bottom of the inning; with two out, Nava doubled and scored on a double by Podsednik.

Tazawa pitched the ninth, and we went down in order.  Bailey pitched the tenth, and we had men on first and second with two out but did nothing.  Melancon pitched the eleventh, and we went down in order.

And then the twelfth inning arrived.  Aceves came in.  He gave up a double on his second pitch, a fine indication of things to come.  He induced a flyout for the first out of the inning and then gave up another double, which put us down by one.  Then he got a strikeout and gave up an RBI single, which put us down by two.  Then Carpenter came in and gave up another RBI single, which put us down by three.  In the bottom of the twelfth Gomez’s single was the extent of our offensive production.

We lost, 9-6.  Of the eleven games we’ve played in extras this year, we’ve won only two.  Neither of those have come at home.

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Well, that’s fun.  It’s nice to win the day after you’re statistically eliminated from playoff contention.  It’s not like we needed all the wins we could get before that.

If I sound bitter and annoyed, it’s because I am.  Who wants to be eliminated from the playoffs? Still, I guess if the choice on any given day is winning or losing, I’ll take winning whenever I can get it.

Cook pitched a gem.  It was a short gem, since I usually picture gems as being great starts that last long, but it was a gem nonetheless.  He allowed one run on five hits over six innings while walking one and striking out one.  He gave up a single in the first and fourth; his one bad inning was the fifth, but if every single one of our pitchers had a bad inning that looked like this one, we’d be in fantastic shape.  With one out and two on, he gave up a sac bunt that scored one.  Then we caught a thief in the act, so Cook’s only walk didn’t load the bases.  And he ended the inning after that.  He went one-two-three in the sixth to finish up.

Hill pitched the seventh, Tazawa pitched the eighth, and Melancon pitched the ninth.  Melancon allowed the second and final Rays run, so he’s extremely lucky that we had already put ourselves in a position to win.  Otherwise that would have been crushing.  He gave up a single that could have been a triple thanks to defensive indifference and a wild pitch.  And then he gave up a groundout that brought the runner in.

Meanwhile, we were being no-hit through five.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for Salty’s walk in the second, we would have been the victims of a bid for a perfect game.  But as is often the case, when a pitcher pitching that well suddenly falters, the gates open and there is an opportunity to make him pay dearly for having almost humiliated you tremendously.  In our case last night, we didn’t exactly go off on a slugging rampage, but we scored enough runs to get the job done.

The sixth began innocently enough for the Rays with Podsednik striking out.  But then Iglesias got hit and moved to second on a groundout by Ciriaco and then third on a wild pitch.  But it turned out that he didn’t need to go all the way around.  All he’d had to do was get on base and wait.  Because Ellsbury went yard.  The count was 3-1, and it was a four-seam fastball.  And he was all over it.  He sent it beyond the right field fence.  And just like that, we had a one-run lead.  But it was about to get bigger.

Pedroia walked after that, stole second, and moved to third on a passed ball, but Ross ended the inning with a strikeout.  Thankfully, we managed to continue our rally in the seventh.  We didn’t waste any time, either.  Loney singled, Salty walked, and Lavarnway reached on a force attempt combined with a fielding error to load the bases.  Gomez pinch-hit for Podsednik and singled in two runs.  Nava pinch-ran for Gomez, and he and Lavarnway both moved over on a sac bunt by Iglesias.  Ciriaco intentionally walked to reload the bases.  And then Ellsbury singled in one more run.

And that was the end for us, so the final score was 5-2.  Am I annoyed that we couldn’t have done more with the bases loaded? Absolutely.  But a win is a win no matter how you get it, and we should at least be thankful for that.  We can be thankful for Ellsbury firmly finding his stride at the plate again, even though it’s a little late, and we can be thankful for contributing to keeping the Rays out of October.  In our position, we’ve got to find silver linings somewhere.

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Think about all the losses we’ve had to endure of the course of the season and especially lately.  Think about the losing streaks we’ve had and the absolutely abysmal month of August we’ve finished.  Think about how this entire year has turned out for us.  Think about the embarrassment and the humiliation and the pain and the devastation and the despair that have been our baseball lives since the end of Spring Training.

Aside from clinching a playoff spot at the expense of the Yankees, there is only one thing that’s sure to provide some degree of an antidote to all of that: preventing the Yankees from clinching a playoff spot.  And how do we do that? By beating them when we’re playing them and rooting hard for their other opponents to beat them when we’re not.  So it should be obvious why last night was so awesome.

Lester did not pitch well at all.  He gave up three runs on five hits, but he left after five and one-third innings.  Why? Because he struck out five and walked seven.  No starting pitcher should ever walk more batters than he strikes out, unless of course he doesn’t strike out anybody but he walks one or something like that.  The point is that he had no command.  He lost control of the strike zone and couldn’t find it, so he couldn’t seal the deal.  He kept getting behind hitters and throwing a lot of pitches and getting tired and generally not being effective.  Lester had already thrown 102 pitches at the time of his departure, and only fifty-five of those were strikes.  And it didn’t help that home plate umpire Chad Fairchild’s definition of the strike zone was not consistent.  So as you can see, he was really laboring  through his start, and it’s a wonder that the Yanks didn’t make him pay even more.

Lester’s first at-bat ended in a walk, which turned into a run one double and two ground-outs later.  He then walked two more batters before ending the inning.  Lester gave up a double and no walks in the second and fifth.  He gave up two walks to lead off the third and one walk to lead off the fourth.  He gave up a walk and a single to lead off the sixth; they were followed by a sac bunt and then a double that brought in two runs.

Tazawa then came on in relief and finished the sixth as well as the seventh.  Breslow pitched the eighth, and Bailey pitched the ninth.  As it turns out, Lester’s three runs were the only runs that the Yankees would score.

We had two runners on in the first and did nothing with either of them, and we went down in order in the second.  But Ciriaco doubled to lead off the third, moved to third on a groundout by Aviles, and scored on a single by Ellsbury.  Podsednik then popped out, and Ellsbury stole second base and scored on a single by Pedroia.  We went down in order in the fourth and fifth before Pedroia went deep in the sixth on a sinker.  It was the third pitch he saw in the at-bat; the first two were sliders around eighty-four miles per hour; the sinker was clocked at ninety-three, but he read it all he way.  So with a 2-0 count the ball sailed right out to the Green Monster where it belonged.  It was precise, it was powerful, and it was the tying run.

We had a fantastic opportunity to break the tie in the seventh.  Kalish singled, Ciriaco hit what was supposed to be a sac bunt but turned into a single thanks to a fielding error, Aviles struck out, and Ellsbury singled to load the bases for Nava.  But Nava grounded into a force out, and Pedroia popped out.  And we went down in order in the eighth.

Then came the ninth, the one inning during which, in these situations, you try to convince yourself that you won’t score because if you don’t your hopes will shoot way up.  Kalish popped out, and it seemed like the inning would proceed as usual: with us not scoring, which meant extras.

But then everything changed.  Ten pitches later, we won, 4-3.  Ciriaco, Aviles, and Ellsbury had hit three straight singles; Ciriaco had scored the winning run, and Ellsbury had batted him in.  It was a small-ball, manufactured walkoff.

So, in sum, we beat the Evil Empire in a walkoff at home.  It was awesome because it set the Yanks back in the standings, we got to celebrate at home right in front of them and thereby bask in our own glory while they lost, and lastly it just so happens that it was Ellsbury’s birthday yesterday, so he got to celebrate with a big win.  We also just really needed this because such happiness has been hard to come by baseball-wise this year.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we haven’t been this happy and psyched in way too long a time.  And I think the team’s been missing that feeling as well.  So we needed this win.  Especially against the Yanks.  We’ve been at our lowest point for a while now, and when we needed most to see that mob in our uniform forming at home plate, the team gave it to us.  And that is definitely something worth celebrating.

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Ugh.  Another crushing loss.  You know it’s bad when you go home and can’t seem to dig yourself out of your slump and instead start a new losing streak.  As if we haven’t had the indication that it’s bad from the fact that it’s September and we’re in last place.

Dice-K did not do well.  As in, he really, really, really did not do well.  He gave up five runs on five hits while walking one and striking out two, and he only lasted one and one-third innings.

He issued his walk in the first but otherwise sailed right through it.  All five of his runs were scored in the second.  It was a complete transformation from good to bad that occurred immediately.  His first pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot, and his third pitch of the inning was hit for a single.  Then he hit a batter and gave up a double that scored one and a single that scored two.  The next runner that would score stole second, moved to third on Lavarnway’s throwing error, and came home on a sac fly.  Dice-K then allowed another single before being replaced by Aceves.

Aceves finished the second and got through the third and fourth in solid fashion.  Miller breezed through the fifth, and Melancon breezed through the sixth and seventh.

Meanwhile, the hitters were completely quiet.  They did nothing.  And they squandered the few opportunities that they did manage to create.  We went down in order in the first and third, but Lavarnway walked in the second, Ellsbury singled and Ross got hit in the fourth, and we didn’t convert those.  We finally did manage to get on the board in the fifth.  Lavarnway walked to lead it off, Aviles singled, Lavarnway scored on a single by Podsednik, Iglesias popped out and Podsednik got doubled off at first, and then Aviles scored on a single by Ciriaco.

It turns out that those two runs would be our only ones of the game.  That was the difference between us and the Jays last night.  Their one bad inning yielded two runs; our one bad inning yielded five and we weren’t even done.

Padilla came on for the eighth and allowed three straight singles, which brought in another run.  And Bailey came on for the ninth and gave up a single, a walk, and a three-run home run.  So after all the hype that Dice-K would bring an end to our slump and after all the rain delays, which lasted a grand total of 123 minutes, the final score, therefore, was 9-2.

Be mindful of this, folks: if Bobby V. chooses to shut Dice-K down for the remainder of the season, this may very well have been the last appearance he will make for us.  He’ll be a free agent this offseason, and something tells me that the brass may decide go to in a new direction.

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Doubront started out so well, but oh, how the mighty have fallen.  For almost all of the first half of the season, he was the ace on our staff, and given the Spring Training pitching roster, nobody would have predicted that.  And yet it was true.

Unfortunately, not so anymore.  Almost overnight, it seems, he started struggling.  At first it was easy to claim that he’d had a bad day and then that he was in a slump.  But being in a slump that lasts for several months and that you can’t get out of is a completely different story.  And that’s what we’ve got on our hands now, plain and simple.

Doubront gave up five runs on six hits over four innings.  He walked two, struck out four, threw eighty-four pitches, and took the loss.  His third pitch of the game was hit for a double, which turned into a run on a sac fly.  He then allowed a solo shot in the third and a two-run home run in the fourth.  He was replaced by Mortensen after his second pitch of the sixth inning was hit for a triple.

Mortensen then allowed his inherited runner to score on a single.  He had a beautiful if laborious sixth inning, during which he struck out all three of the batters he faced on a total of twenty pitches.  Carpenter pitched the seventh, and Hill pitched the eighth.  Bard appeared to pitch the ninth.  Both literally and figuratively.  As in, he made an appearance baseball-wise, and he made the appearance of pitching.  The appearance, and not the act, because he didn’t pitch well.  The field made a fantastic play to get an out at home, but with a runner already on base, he turned around and allowed a two-run home run the very next at-bat.

The offense eventually got around to fighting back.  We didn’t score until the fifth, so by the time we got on the board we were already down by five.  With one out, Kalish and Podsednik hit back-to-back singles, and Kalish scored on a groundout by Pedroia.  Pretty nondescript.  Ciriaco walked with one out in the seventh, stole second base, and scored on a bloop single by Gomez.  Also nondescript.  Pedroia, leading off the fifth, hit a 3-1 fastball clocked at ninety-five miles per hour out toward the Monster for a solo shot.  That was less nondescript.  It’s so much fun to watch him hit home runs and to uncork that massive swing that he seems to unleash out of nowhere.  With one out in the ninth, Aviles walked; one out later, he and Gomez were both coming home on Gomez’s two-run shot, also hit out toward the Monster, also powerful, also on his fifth pitch.  His count was 2-2, and his pitch was a seventy-seven mile-per-hour curveball.

So that makes the final score 7-5.  The sad thing is that this is a team that’s been underperforming just like we’ve been; we’re actually tied for last place with the Jays.  And we still lost by two.  So much for a fresh start at home.

The Boston Globe

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