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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Wright’

Last night was ridiculous.  We scored as many runs as we collected hits: fifteen.  Six of those were for extra bases.  Three of those were home runs, and two of those belonged to Ellsbury, who also had two walks and three RBIs to his credit.  We also walked nine times.  Only one member of the starting nine, Carp, failed to reach base, and even he managed to at least bat in a run.  Only two of our seven batters who had hits had only one hit: Drew and Lavarnway.  Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Gomes each had two hits, Victorino had three, and Papi went a perfect four for four at the plate.  Yeah.  Huge.

Wright got the nod to start this one.  And he didn’t waste any time dropping the ball.  He issued a walk that turned into a triple after a steal and a passed ball.  Then he hit a batter, and then there was another passed ball.  And then there was yet another passed ball that actually scored a run this time.  Then he got a strikeout, and there was another RBI passed ball.  Then he gave up a single, issued another walk, gave a wild pitch to load the bases, and induced a groundout that also scored another run.  And then, finally, the inning was over.

Workman came on for the second, but his beginning didn’t really go much better.  The second began with a strikeout, and then he gave up a single and a two-run home run.  Two outs into the third, he gave up a solo shot.  He also gave up a run in the fourth thanks to a triple-single combination.  He also got into trouble in the sixth.  After securing the inning’s first out, he gave up four consecutive singles and a groundout that, taken together, resulted in two runs.

Workman was replaced by Britton just in time to end the inning with a strikeout.  He had a one-two-three seventh, and he gave up a solo shot in the eighth.  De La Rosa had a one-two-three ninth.

We went down in order in the first and second and got on the board in the third.  Drew singled, Lavarnway struck out, Holt grounded into a force out, and Ellsbury went hard on a fastball.  One more baserunner and it would have been a grand slam.  But it was quite the homer.  All the way to right center field.  Lots of power.

But we got ourselves a lead after scoring five runs in the fifth! Ellsbury walked and scored on a double by Victorino, plus a fielding error.  Then Pedroia doubled in Victorino.  Papi singled, Napoli struck out, Pedroia scored on a groundout by Carp, Papi moved to third on a wild pitch, Drew walked, and Lavarnway doubled in both Papi and Drew.  Five runs.  Done.

The sixth inning was a repeat performance.  We yet again went through the full nine, and we yet again scored five runs! In two innings alone, we scored more runs than we usually score in whole games! The sixth even started with a walk by Ellsbury, just like the fifth.  Then Victorino singled, Pedroia singled in Ellsbury, Papi singled in Victorino with a little help from a throwing error, Napoli was out on a fielder’s choice, and then Gomes hit the second pitch of his at-bat out to left field for a three-run shot.

Ellsbury, who was all over the map offensively last night, led off the seventh with a solo shot to right.  Victorino walked, Pedroia popped out, and then Papi and Napoli worked back-to-back walks.  And Victorino scored on a single by Gomes.

So the pitching was actually pretty messy, when everything was said and done.  Fortunately, our hitters had an enormously huge night.  The final score, if you can believe it, was 15-10.  So it’s bad that the Astros had a slugfest, but it’s good that we had an even bigger one on the same night.  I’m glad we won this one.  It was pretty awesome to watch us score runs in every conceivable way.

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Oh, wow.  Oh, man, that was epic.  How often do you see that? Obviously we’ve had our fair share of walkoffs this year, especially with all those extra-inning games we’ve been playing.  But we didn’t need extras for this one.  Actually, for a while it looked like it wouldn’t do us much good to play the second half.  But what a game.  In the end, it was all worth it.

The fifth inning was our downfall.  Without the fifth inning, we would still have been very much in the game, only behind by one.  Dempster seriously just imploded.

Dempster gave up a run in the first thanks to a triple-single combination.  He gave up his second run in the third thanks to a walk-single combination.  We got on the board in the bottom of the frame.  Ellsbury led off with a double and moved to third on a flyout by Victorino.  Pedroia walked to put runners at the corners, and Ellsbury scored on a sac double play by Papi.

It seemed so simple by the time the fifth inning came around.  All we had to do was score another run to tie and a third run to win, plus great pitching, of course.  But the fifth inning was truly, truly awful.  Dempster gave up five runs.

He gave up a triple and an RBI single before securing the frame’s first out.  He gave up a double before securing the frame’s second out.  Then he issued a walk to load the bases.

And then he gave up four runs on one swing.  Yes.  Ryan Dempster gave up a grand slam.  He threw a two-seam that was fouled off, and then he threw the four-seam that ended it all.

On the one hand, I want to say that that was really his only mistake; if he’d thrown a better pitch, we wouldn’t be six runs behind instead of one.  But on the other hand, it wouldn’t have been a grand slam had he not made a few mistakes before the actual home run was hit.  And even if he’d had to allow the grand slam, if he hadn’t allowed the two previous runs, our deficit would have been cut in half.

Wright came on for the rest of the game.  Victorino’s solo shot, which opened the eighth, should have been awesome but just seemed kind of sad in light of the hole in which we found ourselves.  That right there should have been the tying run, and we should have finished the job in the ninth inning.

And then it happened.  Something truly amazing.  Something ridiculously awesome.  Something extremely epic.  Yes, epic.  It was absolutely, completely, totally, unquestionably epic.

Nava walked, Lavarnway singled, and Nava scored on a double by Holt.  That brought our lead down to four.  We’d need a grand slam or the equivalent to at least tie it up.  Given the dearth of run support we exhibited throughout most of the game, we could hope that the rally would continue due in part to the Mariners’ pitching change, but four runs could potentially be a lot.

Ellsbury walked to load the bases.  To be honest, I was thinking about the absolute perfection that a grand slam would embody at that moment.  But it wasn’t in the cards.  Victorino singled instead.

It wasn’t a long ball.  It wasn’t even an extra-base hit.  But that single scored two runs.  And those two runs brought us within two runs.  Suddenly we were back in this thing, and it was one of those situations where you can almost visualize what the win would look like but don’t want to get your hopes up in case it doesn’t happen at the same time.

Pedroia singled, Ellsbury scored, and we were within one.  Papi struck out for the first out of the inning.  The double play was suddenly an option for Seattle.  But Gomes singled, and the game was tied.  The game was tied at seven.  I saw it with my own eyes and I couldn’t believe it.  Before the ninth, we were down by five.  Even if we’d hit a grand slam of our own, we still would have lost.  Now the game was tied.

Drew walked to load the bases.  A grand slam would have been perfect at that moment as well.

And yet again, it wasn’t in the cards.  But yet again, a single was.  And yet again, it was exactly what we needed.

It was Nava’s turn.  Pedroia scored.  Cue the mob.

We won, 8-7.  We didn’t win in extras.  We didn’t do anything flashy.  We managed to play small ball all the way to the W.  W for walkoff and for win, that is.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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That was a great game.  We didn’t keep it to nine, but we did trade run for run with the Mariners.  I would have loved to watch us win decisively, but I give us a lot of credit for keeping ourselves in it.  There’s something really satisfying about keeping your head down and grinding through it.  Because, at the end of the day, you know that you made this one happen.

Ellsbury led off the game with a solo shot.  Papi walked to lead off the fourth, and Carp got hit.  Holt, Iglesias, and Ellsbury hit back-to-back-to-back singles in the fourth, scoring three.  Pedroia singled, Papi walked, and Gomes singled to load the bases with nobody out in the fifth, and a sac fly and two singles scored three.

Dempster gave up a solo shot to lead off the second.  Two flyouts, a single, a wild pitch, a fielding error, a double, and a single later, two more runs scored.  He gave up another run on a walk-single combination in the third.  He gave up four singles over the course of the fourth, resulting in two runs.  The latter was a runner inherited by Steven Wright, who came on for relief.  But he ended up pitching the rest of the game phenomenally well.

The game started with a bang but ended pretty casually.  Lavarnway led off the tenth with a walk, and we made the Mariners pay.  Bradley came on to pinch-run, moved to second on a sac fly by Holt, and later scored on a single by Nava.  And Uehara pitched a one-two-three ninth.

And that’s a wrap.  We won, 8-7, in ten but we used only two pitches.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

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It’s bad enough to allow your opposition to score runs.  It’s bad enough to allow your opposition to score a lot of runs.  It’s even worse to allow your opposition to score a lot of runs while you yourself score absolutely no runs.  But one of the worst scenarios is when you allow your opposition to score a lot of runs while you yourself score absolutely no runs because the opposing pitcher is someone who used to pitch for you and is somehow having a great day.

There are various teams in the majors that tend to absorb our players when we allow them to walk or when we trade them away.  Oakland has apparently become one of those teams.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Green Sox.

Bartolo Colon held us to zero runs.  Meanwhile, Aceves lasted less than four innings; he recorded the first run in the fourth and was taken out in favor of Steven Wright, but both should share in the blame. Aceves had a one-two-three first.  It was his first good inning.  He gave up a single and a walk in the second but didn’t give up any runs.  It was his last good inning.  Then he imploded.

Aceves issued a four-pitch walk to open the third.  He gave up a single to Coco Crisp and another walk to load the bases.  He then walked in the first run of the game; it would be the first of six that inning alone.  Yes, walking in a run was embarrassing but, in the grand scheme of how the game turned out, not nearly as embarrassing as how it would end.  Aceves finally recorded the inning’s first out but then gave up a single that scored two.  Then he balked, which put two runners in scoring position; a sac fly scored one, and a single by Josh Reddick scored the other and put him at second thanks to a throwing error by Aceves himself.  Then he balked again, which moved Reddick to third, and he scored on a throwing error.  The inning finally ended with a groundout.

Crisp grounded out to open the fourth, and then Aceves went right back to it.  He gave up a double and then a home run.  Then Jed Lowrie singled, and Wright came in, ending the inning on a double play.

Wright didn’t let any of his inherited runners score.  He just put his own runners on base and let them score.  He gave up a single to lead off the fifth, struck out Reddick, and issued two consecutive walks.  He then gave up a double to Crisp, which scored two, followed by a single, which scored two.  Then there was a passed ball, a fielder’s choice, and finally a flyout.

Wright issued two consecutive walks yet again to begin the sixth.  He gave up a double to Reddick that scored one and then send the A’s down in order.  Wright gave up two singles in the seventh but didn’t allow any runs.

And that’s as far as we got.  Rain prevented the playing of the game’s last two innings.  I at least would have wanted to see the contest through, but perhaps we’ll be able to draw on the extra rest to win a sorely needed contest at some point.  Baseball works in mysterious ways sometimes, but the outcome of this one, at least, was decisive.  We lost, thirteen-zip.  We had three hits and only one walk; we were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and left four on base.  Pedroia, Salty, and Gomes were the ones who singled; nobody hit anything for extra bases.  Ellsbury was the one who walked.  Aceves took the loss.

In other news, the Flyers beat the Bruins, 5-2.

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It’s the middle of March.  The roster is thinning down, and the team’s performance is moving up.  As Opening Day nears, the pitchers especially are the players to watch.  Wins and losses means nothing in Spring Training, when regulars routinely don’t complete games, but a game is a game, and you can watch a pitcher’s motion and see how comfortable he is with certain pitches and certain situations.  Also pay attention to defense and injury in the field.  These things won’t necessarily predict our performance this year, but at least we’ll be able to tell how ready this year’s team is to face the music when the season starts.  Honestly, I have to say, it looks pretty good.

Nava is surely going to win a spot on the bench now that he’s proven himself at first, where he’s seen playing time this spring.  Drew has been out with a concussion that he sustained after getting hit by a pitch.  Papi started running the bases a bit but, due to soreness in his right foot derived from his Achilles injury, he’s had to take it easy as well.  While he’s sat out, Farrell’s been rotating the DH spot.  Unfortunately, he may very well start the season on the disabled list.  So will Breslow, due to problems with his left shoulder, and Morales, due to problems with his lower back.  Napoli actually saw action in consecutive days and managed to survive, which was a very good sign.  Aceves returned to camp after Team Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.  Fortunately, he wasn’t injured in the significant brawl that broke out between Team Mexico and Team Canada when the former got upset because the latter bunted with the game practically won already.  Team Mexico didn’t know about the Classic’s tiebreakers, which use run differential, and thought it was bad form.  So several Canadian players ganged up on Aceves and dragged him to the ground.  Like I said, we’re pretty lucky he wasn’t injured.  Victorino will also be heading back to camp now that Team USA is out.  Steven Wright, the knuckleballer who may not be, since he’s having some trouble getting a handle on the pitch, got cut along with Deven Marrero, Drake Britton, Justin Henry, Alex Hassan, Mark Hamilton, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Juan Carlos Linares, Pedro Beato, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Christian Velazquez, Daniel Butler, and Alex Wilson.  Ryan Westmoreland, once considered one of our best farmboys, is retiring.  We traded cash to Baltimore for Mike Flacco, who plays first base.  Yes, he’s the brother of Joe Flacco.  Yaz made his annual visit to camp, making the rounds with current Sox and former teammates.

Now let’s talk action.  We beat the Rays on March 4, 5-1.  Doubront made his debut and tossed 1.2 shutout innings including a hit, two walks, and two K’s.  Carpenter also tossed a shutout frame to end the game.  Iglesias went two for two with two doubles; Salty also had a double to his credit, and Overbay tripled.  We were back in action Wednesday opposite the Pirates, who beat us, 9-3.  On the bright side, Lester looked especially sharp; he hurled four comforting and relief-inspiring innings, during which he allowed one hit on two runs while walking three and striking out three.  I wasn’t a fan of the three walks, but it’s more important that he slowly but steadily lengthens his starts without also augmenting his run total.  Wright took the loss and gave up five runs on five hits; Tazawa pitched a shutout inning to end it.  Ciriaco went two for four, and Gomes and Salty both doubled.  We beat the Twins on Thursday, 12-5.  For the first three innings, it was all Buchholz, who dominated with a shutout performance and issued two hits, no walks, and four K’s.  Hanrahan delivered a deflating fail of a third of an inning, during which he gave up four runs on four hits, but Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Meanwhile, Pedroia and Napoli each collected two hits; Pedroia doubled and Napoli smacked a home run that seemed like he could really get used to the power again.  The Twins bested us the next day, though, with a shutout performance.  Dempster took the loss and gave up the game’s only two runs.  We lost to the O’s on Saturday, 5-2.  Doubront gave up two runs on four hits over three innings with a walk and five strikeouts; Hanrahan and Bailey both delivered shutout frames.  Salty had himself two hits, and Overbay doubled.

We beat the Rays on Sunday, 6-2.  Lackey worked three and two-thirds inning and gave up two runs on four hits, one of them a homer, while walking two and striking out two.  It doesn’t seem like much, but that start was better than most of the ones we’ve seen from him in recent memory; granted, it doesn’t take much from him at this point to constitute a good sign, but you have to start rebuilding somewhere.  Overbay went two for three, and Ross had himself a three-run jack.  The Marlins beat us on Monday, 8-7; Lester delivered five beautiful innings, giving up one run on three hits while walking none and striking out four.  Carpenter took the blown save and the loss, giving up two runs on two hits en route to recording the game’s last two outs.  Salty doubled, and Middlebrooks homered for the first time since getting injured! He looked mighty comfortable doing it, too.  Like he could do it again.  Repeatedly.  We beat the Jays on Tuesday, 5-3.  Buchholz kept up his strong performance with four shutout innings during which he issued one K and gave up three hits.  Bailey turned in a shutout inning of his own.  Nava, Napoli, and Sweeney each had two hits; Napoli, Sweeney, and Middlebrooks each hit doubles.

We had Wednesday off and bested the Twins on Thursday, 7-3.  Dempster picked up the win with four innings of one-run, three-hit ball; Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Ellsbury went two for three with a double; Iglesias smacked a double as well.  Friday’s game against Baltimore ended in a tie at three after ten; Mortensen started and tossed three shutout innings of two-hit ball, and no one had a multihit game.  We crushed Tampa Bay on Saturday, 9-2.  Aceves pitched four and one-third innings during which he gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and five K’s.  Iglesias and Gomez both had two hits; Iglesias tripled, and Gomez doubled.  We beat Tampa Bay again yesterday, 5-1, on the shoulders of a literally perfect performance by Lester.  Six innings.  No runs.  No hits.  No walks.  Six K’s, or an average of one per inning.  Even Hanrahan got in the spirit and delivered a shutout inning.  It was only Spring Training, but it was a glorious indication of things to come.  Expect him to start on Opening Day for sure.  Middlebrooks went two for three, and Gomes was perfect at the plate; both doubled.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps in sudden death but then beat the Leafs, Flyers, and Sens.  We lost to the Penguins and then beat the Panthers and Caps before losing to the Penguins again.

Boston Herald Staff/Christopher Evans

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Now that Spring Training is thoroughly underway, it’s high time for a status report.

Pitchers and catchers had physicals on February 11 and their first official team workout the following day.  Naturally, Buchholz just had to strain his right hamstring about ten minutes into the first pitchers’ fielding practice of the spring, but it turned out to be minor and he was back out there that Wednesday and had proceeded to long toss by that Friday and a forty-five-pitch side session that Monday.  Lackey lost a whopping seventeen pounds and is looking lean.  Don’t expect to see fireworks right away from Breslow or Doubront, who have been assigned to a more cautious training program.  Tim Wakefield was back at camp basically tutoring Steven Wright, the knuckleball’s next generation, and as we knew they would be, Pedro Martinez and Tek are also using their veteran skill to help out.  Mike Lowell is another surprise veteran guest.  And for some bizarre reason, when Aceves started throwing live batting practice, he insisted on lobbing the ball; I don’t really know what that was about.  Needless to say, he cleaned up his act.  Nieves and Farrell didn’t seem to know what was going on either, but Farrell sure was annoyed; as were we all.

The rest of the team reported on February 14.  Look for Victorino and Ellsbury to get a lot of practice in this spring.  Fenway’s right field is probably the most formidable in all of baseball, so it’ll be good for the two of them to nail down a routine.  Also look for Farrell to exercise considerable caution with Napoli, who started defensive drills at first on February 17; his hip MRI had come back clean, so he was given the green light.  Papi is not baserunning or conditioning with the team; he’s on his own specific running program that will slowly but steadily increase in intensity.  Middlebrooks’s broken wrist is officially history, as is Drew’s fractured ankle.  We acquired Mike Carp from Seattle for either a player to be named later or cash considerations.

We played our first exhibition on January 21; it was a double-header, first against Northeastern and then against Boston College, and we won, 3-0 and 11-1.  Only the relievers pitched; each got one inning, and Hanrahan debuted, successfully getting around two baserunners.  The regulars batted in the first game, while the minor leaguers got a turn in the second.

Grapefruit League play officially began on Saturday against the Rays.  We lost by one, and Lackey pitched only one inning, giving up a walk, a hit, a strikeout, and a run, but he looked pretty comfortable.  We played the Cards next, winning by two; Lester pitched two solid innings, Nava and Gomez both had multi-hit games, and Ciriaco batted in two runs.  Then we had a double-header with the Rays and Jays, splitting the day.  Aceves gave up two runs, two hits, and two walks over two innings, but Bard issued a walk and a strikeout in his scoreless inning, and Pedroia hit a solo shot.  The staff issued a solid performance in the afternoon, with a good amount of the offensive support not coming from the regulars.  Our following game against the Cards ended in the worst way: with a 15-4 loss.  Dempster pitched two solid innings, but the same can not be said of the remainder of the staff; Mortensen took the loss.  Ciriaco went two for two, and Iglesias hit a double.  We lost to Baltimore by two after that; Morales pitched his inning well, Hanrahan struck out two but walked one and allowed a run, and Tazawa was awarded a blown save as well as the loss.  Gomes hit a solo shot, and Ciriaco had himself another two hits, including a triple.  Middlebrooks had to leave the game with soreness in his wrist, but it turned out to be nothing, and he feels fine and returned.  Thank goodness, because I don’t know what we’d do if he were down for the count.  We’re not exactly deep at the corner there.  For his part, Gomes got personal with a wall and had to get stitches in his left knee as a result; this game really was not good to us.

On Thursday against the Bucs, Lackey upped the ante with two innings of work.  He gave up three runs with a walk, a strikeout, and a homer, but it seems like the more he goes out there, the more comfortable he seems.  And there’s no question about the fact that he’s throwing the ball well.  It was a 16-6 win, so the offense was also a highlight; the regulars were pretty quiet, and there were no extra-base hits, but we made a strong showing nonetheless.  It’s nice to know that the next generation can play some strong small ball.  Lester took a turn on Friday, pitching three innings of one-hit ball against the Orioles.  Pedroia went two for two and Drew hit a double en route to the win.  We eked out a victory against the Twins next; during 1.1 innings, Buchholz walked two, struck out two, and gave up one hit.  Aceves was awarded both a blown save and a win, and Sweeney went two for four.

Last but not least, we played the Evil Empire yesterday, losing, 5-2.  But hey, it’s Spring Training; the final score is never as important as the baseball being played.  Dempster pitched three one-hit innings with two strikeouts; Hanrahan blew his save and took the loss.  No one had a multi-hit game, but Salty doubled and Napoli hit a solo shot, which was quite the sight to see.  He cleared the sign in right center field 420 feet away.  It was huge.  I saw that, and it was so nice to really observe the reason why he’s here.

Bard will throw twenty or so pitches in a simulated game on Monday.  Papi has been running the bases a little bit but has felt sore.  Finally, Lucchino thinks our sellout streak will end soon; he cites April 10 as a possible end date.  I know there’s always a debate surrounding what the sellout streak has meant and whether it really means anything at all, but for a franchise like this with a fan base like ours, such a streak really shouldn’t be ending anytime soon.  That’s all I have to say about it.  And I’ll end with the beginning: Farrell’s opening address on February 15.  This was basically his opportunity to introduce himself and his philosophy to the team.  Even though many on the team know him and are familiar with the way he works, the gesture shows humility, collaboration, and the kind of professionalism that he urged members of the team to adopt.  The great thing is that, in many ways, Farrell is a product and holdover from the Francona era, but he’s still a fresh perspective, much-needed indeed after the debacle that was last season.  Farrell was compelling and inspiring.  He’s the man we should have had at the helm all along.  It just feels right, and it’s going to be a good year.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Jets, Bolts, Panthers, Isles, Sens, and Bolts again! Sadly, our winning streak came to an end with a 4-3 loss to the Habs.

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