Posts Tagged ‘Shawn Camp’

The way I would describe last night’s start by Dice-K can be summarized in one phrase: that’s more like it.

In last night’s start he showed glimmers of why we signed him in the first place and why he was so effective in 2007.  In last night’s start he dominated like he was an ace who’d been around the league long enough to know exactly how to handle these Jays.  In last night’s start he gave Red Sox Nation a reason to hope that maybe signing him, sticking with him in the long haul, and having faith he’ll come around wouldn’t have been in vain.

He pitched seven innings of one-hit ball and allowed only three hits.  No walks whatsoever for the second time in his career.  Nine strikeouts, only one of which was not on a fastball (Snider struck out on an eighty-one mile-per-hour changeup), and only two of which were looking.  He faced twenty-four batters and also induced ten flyouts and two groundouts.  107 pitches, about sixty-six percent of which were strikes.  That’s a very high rate.  That’s one of the highest such rates we’ve seen all season.  He got the win, and very deservedly so.  He started the game striking out Lewis on a ninety-two mile-per-hour fastball.  I mean, this Dice-K was completely different than the Dice-K we’d been seeing until this point, and it just confirms that he was in fact on the trajectory of improvement we all thought he was on.  In one night, he lowered his ERA from 9.90 to 6.35.

His four-seam was excellent.  He only topped out at ninety-three miles per hour, but he threw about seventy percent of them for strikes.  Which was good because that was his dominant pitch; he threw about sixty-eight of them.  The reason his four-seam was so effective was that it has fantastic vertical movement on it.  His fastest pitches don’t do much horizontally, but vertically they’re real sharp.  Like off the charts sharp.  His two-seam, cutter, curveball, and slider were excellent; his changeup still needs work.  And if you ask me, even if his fastball does move, I still think he should mix his pitches more effectively.  This outing was a good first step, but he won’t last the season if his pitch mix looks like that.  A pitcher can’t live on fastballs alone.  There are those who would argue that a fastball is only as good as the pitches thrown before and after it.  So I think it would greatly behoove him and therefore us if he’d work on that.

His lowest per-inning pitch count was eleven, which he threw twice.  He threw between sixteen and twenty pitches in each of the remaining five innings, with twenty being his highest count in the third and nineteen being his highest in the sixth.  So he ran into some trouble there, but of course every pitcher who’s on gets into at least one jam.  That’s a trend we’ve seen with him; in each of his last two starts, he’s had one disastrous inning.  In last night’s start, it could be that that disastrous inning was just much more controlled and contained.  Although ideally he wouldn’t have any disastrous innings at all.

Of course it helps when you have good relief.  Ramirez pitched around a hit and a walk to finish an inning, and Okajima followed that with a perfect inning.

And it also helps when you have good offense.  Unlike Dice-K, Eveland only lasted a little more than four frames.

Scutaro led off the game with a walk and moved to third on Pedroia’s double, scoring on Drew’s groundout.  Pedroia scored on Youk’s sac fly.  Tek unloaded for a home run in the second; a 2—0 fastball that completely cleared the Monster and Lansdowne Street.  Dude got power.  That would be his sixth of the season, fifth from the right side, in forty at-bats.  To put that in perspective, he didn’t hit his sixth home run last hear until at-bat number 125.  He led off the fourth with a single; his bat broke, which confused Bautista, so the ball rolled between his legs, which we don’t have to worry about because it was the opposing team.  Hall followed that with a popup to shallow left-center that dropped between Lewis, Gonzalez, and Wells and has quietly been getting some hits in lately.  Then, Tek scored again on McDonald’s double in the fourth.  So, not the Jays’ best inning in the field.  Drew led off the fifth with a bunt.  Youk walked.  Eveland left with a ball on Lowell; Camp entered and walked him to load the bases.  Drew scored on a wild pitch and Youk scored when Hall grounded into a fielder’s choice.  We recorded twice as many hits and six times as many runs as they did.

By the way, Youk was hit by a pitch in the third for the sixty-third time in his career.  He’s one HBP shy of tying Jim Rice for second place on the franchise all-time list.

Pedroia and Drew both went two for four.  Drew stole second and appears to be in good health.  Tek went two for three, continuing to impress.  Can’t say I didn’t see that coming; in the beginning of the season I said that Tek’s Renaissance would last because extra rest would draw it out.  I hope that’s what we’re seeing here.  And finally, last but not least, 6-1 says we won.

A quick update on our absent outfielders: Cameron is doing a rehab stint with the PawSox, and Ellsbury took batting practice and did baserunning drills yesterday, so that’s a very good sign that he’ll be back in action soon.  Seriously this time.

So that was a good game all around.  I just hope that Dice-K builds on it.  His number one problem has been inconsistency, so this start was a good first step, but it’ll be really important to observe his performance in his next start to see if this is the establishment of a new norm or just one more piece of evidence of his irregular performance.  Of course we’ll have to wait to find out, but in the meantime Wakefield will try for the sweep against Marcum tonight.


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Ballplayers don’t come cheap, but the acquisition of Paul Byrd was just about the lowest-risk investment the front office could’ve possibly made.  He kept himself in shape during the offseason, and we signed him to a minor league contract.  If anything had gone wrong, we had flexibility and we had options, like trading for someone younger and better, and at least it wouldn’t have gone wrong at the Major League level, where right now that would have been extraordinarily inconvenient.  And trust me, things could’ve gone very wrong.  He could’ve injured himself early.  He could’ve pitched consistently horribly.  But as it happens, everything went right.

During his first outing in almost a year, Paul Byrd pitched six shutout innings of three-hit ball with three walks and a strikeouts.  He starts 2009 with an ERA of 0.00 and an undefeated record of 1-0.  And he did it all with just eighty-three pitches, the vast majority of which fit a mixture of cutters, sliders, and changeups, with a fastball here and there.  Pretty impressive for a non-knuckleballer who’s thirty-nine years old and hasn’t thrown a Major League pitch since the end of last season.

Delcarmen pitched the seventh.  Wagner pitched the eighth, and after striking out the side, the inning was over.  Not bad.  An auspicious start to Wagner’s Boston career.  Let’s hope it continues in that direction; for an example of the other direction, I refer you to Eric Gagne.  Saito pitched the ninth.

We had a nice spread yesterday.  We scored one run in each of the first four innings and three more in the seventh, making the final score a very decisive 7-0 to complete a sweep with the Jays.  Pedroia and V-Mart both doubled.  Youk went two for three with a double and three RBIs.  Gonzalez went three for two with an RBI of his own.  Baldelli went yard on Halladay to lead off the second with an RBI of his own (Bay had the day off).  And then two of our runs were unearned (the Jays can thank Shawn Camp for making the throwing error that scored both).  And that was pretty much the ballgame!

Wake will receive a cortisone shot today and could be back in action in a week.  And finally, today is the last day of August! And we all know what that means: September callups.  The first set will join the roster tomorrow, and the next on September 7 after Pawtucket’s season is over.  George Kottaras, Jed Lowrie, Junichi Tazawa, Brian Anderson, Josh Reddick, Jeff Bailey, Michael Bowden, and Hunter Jones will probably be on that list.  Especially Lowrie.  Being that he’s technically our starter, when his wrist is healthy, which is where Alex Gonzalez comes in.

It doesn’t get much better than that, folks.  A shutout, a sweep, a very clear display of our offensive prowess.  Last night’s contest had it all.  Just to keep tabs, last night extended our Wild Card lead to three and a half games, even though our rank in the division remains static.  (The Yankees won yesterday; again, I don’t know how I feel about that.)  We’re on the road now for a series with Tampa Bay, and Lester will take the hill opposite Andy Sonnanstine on Tuesday.  I never liked Tropicana Field; it’s an indoor ballpark with lots of strange angles which complicates the game in a way that’s very unnecessary.  But hey, the more comfortable we get playing there, the easier it’ll be each time.  Hopefully that’ll be the case this time around.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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