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Posts Tagged ‘Tampa Bay Lightning’

Pedroia’s thumb surgery is now done, but it looks like he may have to miss part of Spring Training to recover.  And that’s pretty much it.  No big news on other fronts, so the waiting game continues.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Bolts, three-zip, as well as the Blue Jackets, 3-2.  But we lost to the Sens, 4-2.  The Pats had a bye last week.

Boston Herald Staff
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Okay.  There’s no need to be scared or read into this.  Just because the last two times we’ve been to the World Series we’ve been able to sweep and get it done in four games doesn’t mean that we’ll lose the World Series just because we lost the second game.  It’s fine.  Honestly, we shouldn’t even have lost this one.  My point is that there is plenty of baseball still to be played.  True, we’re going away now, but that hasn’t stopped us before.  We’ll just have to get past it.

So Lackey did a great job while he was on the mound.  He pitched six and one-third innings and gave up five hits and two walks while striking out six.  He gave up a single in the first, a single in the second, and nothing in the third.  He cracked in the fourth when he gave up a triple to lead it off that turned into a run on a groundout.

That one run was a big deal because we had yet to score.  We went down in order in the first, and Napoli walked to provide our first baserunner in the second.  Ellsbury provided our first hit in the third with a single, and the bottom of the fourth looked promising.  Pedroia doubled and Papi walked, setting up Napoli.  Who then grounded into a double play.

Lackey went one-two-three in the fifth; Salty walked in the bottom of the inning, but that was it.  Lackey gave up a single in the sixth, and in the bottom of the inning, it looked like the game might be ours after all.

I’ve often said that, in a close game, one run feels like ten.  This one was no exception.  Because the longer you go without scoring runs, the more difficult it feels to score them.  After Victorino grounded out, Pedroia walked, and then it was Papi’s turn.  And I was busy thinking how great it would be if he just went yard, just like that, just because we really needed him to.

He took a fastball for a ball, fouled off a second fastball, and then received four straight changeups.  He took the first for a ball, the second for a strike, and the third in the dirt.

And he went yard on the fourth.  Hit that ball into the Monster seats.  Seriously.  Just like that.  Just because we needed him to.

It was huge.  It didn’t tie the game.  It gave us the lead.  In a close one.  In which scoring one run felt like scoring ten.  And as a result of that phenomenon, scoring two runs on one swing felt like a real jump out in front.

Unfortunately, the whole thing unraveled in the seventh.  That can not be overstated.  Literally the whole game was completely undone in the seventh inning alone.  It was one of the worst innings you can possibly imagine to occur during, of all things, the World Series.  Honestly, that kind of bad baseball is not even excusable during the regular season, let alone the postseason, let alone the pinnacle of the entire postseason.

Lackey led off the seventh with a strikeout.  Then he issued a walk and gave up a single, so John went with Breslow.  The Cards managed to execute a double steal, putting both runners in scoring position.  And Breslow walked his first batter to load the bases.

A double play would have ended it all.  But Breslow induced a sac fly.  Technically, that’s not so bad; you take the out in exchange for the run, which in this case would not be winning but rather tying.

But the whole thing went completely and epically awry.  I saw it with my own eyes, and I couldn’t believe it was happening.  I think that that had something to do with the fact that I didn’t really want to believe it was happening.

Not one but two runners scored on the sac fly, indeed providing the Cards with the winning run.  Salty missed the catch, Breslow made an error on the throw, and the whole thing turned into a huge mess as a result.  And then, to top it off, Breslow gave up an RBI single.  Thus, while Lackey was charged with three runs, he was also the victim of a situation in which some of them scored on someone else’s watch.

The final score was established right there.  We lost, 4-2.

Tazawa pitched the last out of the seventh, after which we went down in order.  Workman pitched the eighth, which for us looked like it had some potential.  Ellsbury reached on a fielding error, and Papi singled two outs later.  But Napoli popped out to end it.  Uehara pitched the ninth, after which we went down in order.

So at one point the game looked like it would be really good.  Then it was really, really bad.  All because of one play that was supposed to be routine but that instead cost us Game Two.  We need to pull it together.  Not only were those errors completely inappropriate for the World Series, but we also didn’t even have enough hits or runs to absorb that damage.  At the same time, I saw too many swing-and-misses and too many stare-at-strikes.  All of that needs to change immediately.  If we’re going to get this done, we need to take the proper steps.

In other news, hockey is back in Boston as the Bruins began their new season this month.  So far, we’ve beaten the Lightning, Red Wings, Panthers, Lightning again, Sabres, and Sharks, and we’ve lost to the Avalanche and Red Wings.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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At two hours and fifty-nine minutes, this game was brief but intense, depending on whose perspective you take.  I suppose that it was intense for both teams.  It’s just that one team was happy about the intensity and the other wasn’t.  Guess which side we were on.

Buchholz was one out shy of pitching eight innings.  He gave up two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out a whopping ten batters.  He got his first one in the first on a cutter, the second in the second on a cutter, and three more in the third, all on four-seams.  He had another in the fourth on a curveball and one in the fifth on a cutter.  He had one in the sixth on a four-seam and two in the seventh, one on a four-seam and the other on a cutter.  A ridiculously high total of six of those ten strikeouts were looking, which shows that Houston just really had no idea what to do.

Buchholz gave up a double, a single, and a double play that scored one run in the second; all in all, a double play for a run is both an accepted and an acceptable trade.  In the third, he gave a double that turned into a triple thanks to a steal and finally a run thanks to a single.  Other than that, his start was phenomenal.  The sixth and seventh innings were particularly efficient.  Say hello to the first five-game winner in Major League Baseball.

Miller got the last out of the eighth, and Bard pitched the ninth.  So the Astros were held to just those two runs.  The list of our offensive accomplishments was thankfully much longer.

After Ellsbury led off the first with a groundout, Nava walked, moved to second on a passed ball, and scored on a single by Pedroia.  Pedroia stole second base and scored on a single by Papi, who moved to second thanks to a throwing error.  Napoli then struck out, and Carp hit a double that got deflected, scoring Papi.  And then Carp scored on a single by Salty.

And then we witnessed something truly great.  It can be described as nothing less than a sight for sore eyes.  The team has been playing extremely well, but there’s something that hadn’t happened in a while of which we really wanted a reminder.  In the third inning, we got it.  Papi stepped up to the plate.  He took a changeup for a ball.  And then he got an eighty-nine mile-per-hour fastball and just bashed it to one of the deepest parts of the park: center field.  It was his first home run of the season, and it was completed in classic Papi style from the moment the ball and bat made contact right to the end of the follow-through and all the way around the bases to home and back to the dugout.  It was a thing of beauty, and I look forward to seeing a lot more of it.

We didn’t score in the fourth, but we did again in the fifth.  Pedroia flied out, Papi singled en route to a three-for-four performance, Napoli struck out, Carp singled, Salty singled in one, and Middlebrooks doubled in another.  And that was it for the rest of the game.  The final score was 7-2.  This was the Astros’ first game at Fenway since 2003.  If I were them, I sure wouldn’t be in a rush to return.

In other news, the B’s silenced the Bolts, two-zip.

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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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Aviles is officially our starting shortstop.   We still don’t know who will officially be our fourth and fifth starters; in classic Bobby V.-esque fashion, he has heightened the drama by waiting to announce it this morning.  There are those who have been predicting all Spring Training who it’s going to be, but I’ve learned my lesson that you can’t really predict much of anything when it comes to Bobby V.  So we’ll just have to wait and see.

We lost to the Jays, 6-5, on Sunday.  Bard pitched six innings and gave up five runs on six hits while walking three and striking out five.  Aviles went three for four with two doubles, and Ellsbury and McDonald both tripled.

We shut out the Phillies on Monday, six-zip.  Lester’s seven innings were a thing of beauty.  He allowed just two hits and struck out ten.  Salty, Sweeney, and Papi all singled, and Pedroia and Ross both homered, Pedroia to the opposite field.  Paps experienced for the first time what it’s like to socialize with the team while wearing the opposition’s uniform; he didn’t pitch.

We shut out the Rays on Tuesday, eight-zip.  Beckett threw eighty-four pitches in five innings.  He walked three and struck out five.  Papi doubled, Pedroia tripled, and Ross homered.

We los to the Jays on Thursday, 3-2.  Aceves pitched six innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits.  He walked two and struck out four; fifty-four of his eighty-seven pitches were strikes.  Sweeney hit an RBI double, and Papi homered.  The winning run was scored by Anthony Gose, who, with the game tied at two in the eighth, reached first on a walk and then stole second, third, and home, all in the same inning.  You know what they say: walks will haunt.

We beat the Twins on Friday, 9-7.  Bard pitched six innings, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out seven, which was awesome.  Ross hit two two-run home runs.  Ellsbury fouled a ball off of his right knee in the top of the fifth and left the game in the bottom of the inning but is totally fine.

Yesterday, we tied the Rays at seven.  Ross Ohlendorf started.  Ciriaco, Nava, and Shoppach each doubled.  Ciriaco had a fantastic Spring Training; look for him to be chosen for the final roster spot.

In other news, the B’s beat the Ducks, Bolts, and Isles; we lost to the Caps in a shootout.

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We’re seeing good things from the pitchers as well as the hitters this week.  Lester has a bit of a ways to go shaking the offseason rust off, but Beckett seems to be right on track.  Papi and Pedroia, among others, delivered at the plate this week as well.  We also made our first round of cuts, with no major surprises.  We saw some cases for the role of fifth starter, and we saw Bard hiccup in his latest step on the road to becoming a starter, which one American League scout seems to think is not the greatest of ideas.  Bobby V. also says he’s working with the pitchers to develop a new approach that incorporates a little more focus on the first-base runner in order to avoid the rampant running that we experienced last season.  All in all, it was a great week, and we’re starting to look like a team again.

We beat the Orioles, 6-1, on Sunday.  It was better than his previous outing, but still not what you expect from him.  In four innings, he threw sixty-six pitches and gave up one run and one hit and struck out two but walked four.  That’s never something you want to hear.  He bounced back, though, to retire seven of his last eight batters.  Shoppach caught him for the first time in seven years.  His cutter was really nice.  Pedroia went two for three with two RBIs, and Ross hit and scored twice each.  Cook, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, delivered two scoreless frames.  His sinker was good.

We beat the Marlins, 5-3, on Monday, ironically on Beckett’s watch.  In total, he pitched four innings.  In total, he struck out three, gave up one run, one hit, and one walk and hit two batters.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  His first inning was horrible.  He hit both batters that inning; allowed that one hit, a double; and allowed one of his walks, which came with the bases loaded to allow his only run.  He threw twenty-one pitches that inning.  But he turned it around, and it was smooth sailing after that; he retired the last seven batters he faced and threw thirty-six pitches for the remainder of his outing.  Melacon delivered a perfect fifth; Bailey delivered a not-so-perfect sixth, giving up three straight hits and a run before finishing his work.  Ozzie Guillen received his first rejection as manager of the Florida Marlins.  That really didn’t take him long at all; honestly, I’m surprised it didn’t come sooner.  Finally, Pedro Ciriaco, a non-roster invitee to camp, blasted a two-run walkoff home run in the tenth inning to win it for us.

I don’t care if it’s the regular season, the postseason, or Spring Training; for me, beating the Yankees is always in season.  And that’s what we did on Tuesday.  By a score of 1-0.  Ciriaco again delivered; he singled to lead off the ninth and came home on two errors.  Doubront started and delivered four shutout innings during which he gave up two hits, walked one, balked one, and struck out three.  Forty-nine of his seventy-five pitches were strikes.  Obviously he threw way too many pitches, but what he was throwing looked good.  Bowden struck out three of his four batters and delivered a scoreless fifth.  Padilla also appeared and pitched three innings, striking out four.  Meanwhile, Buchholz started a simulation game and pitched four simulated innings; he walked two, struck out two, and gave up five hits, two of which were for extra bases.  He also picked off Punto.

The Cards beat us on Thursday, 9-6.  It wasn’t pretty.  Bobby V.’s statement that Bard’s been better was an understatement.  Bard was originally supposed to pitch four innings in relief, but he only lasted two and two-thirds innings.  He gave up seven runs on six hits, one of which was a home run.  He struck out four but also walked four.  There was also a sixteen-minute rain delay in the middle of his first inning, which supposedly wasn’t helpful either.  Meanwhile, Aceves started the game and actually delivered four full innings, and his four innings were awesome: one run on three hits, no walks, and four strikeouts.  McDonald and Pedroia each hit home runs, McDonald’s a two-runner and Pedroia’s a leadoff shot.  Papi and Lavarnway each hit doubles.

The Twins squeaked by us on Thursday, 2-1.  Lester was not good.  He threw eighty-one pitches in four innings.  Only forty-seven of those eighty-one pitches were strikes.  He hit two, walked one, struck out one, and gave up five hits, all of them to the last third of the order.  No control, no command, and no curveball.  Miller pitched a scoreless inning and struck out two; his two strikeouts came from the stretch, while a walk in the inning came from the windup.  Bobby V. told him to only pitch out of the stretch.  We’ll see how that works out.  Bailey bounced back to strike out two in a one-two-three inning.

We played two split-squad games against the Orioles yesterday.  We tied one at three and won the other, 7-4.  In the former, Cook pitched three and one-third innings and gave up a hit and a walk but struck out one and induced a double play.  In the latter, Beckett pitched a fine five innings; he gave up one run on two hits while walking one and striking out two.  Forty of his fifty-nine pitches were strikes.  Yup, that’s a mighty fine five innings.  Ross hit a home run in a full count.

In other news, the B’s lost to the Pens, Bolts, and Sens but beat the Flyers.

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The big news this week is that we’ve traded Scutaro to the Rockies for Clayton Mortensen.  Make no mistake about this deal, folks.  This deal was not for Mortensen.  This deal was to dispose of Scutaro’s six million dollars in order to free up salary for a starter, possibly Roy Oswalt.  So don’t think of it as a neat exchange; think of it as exchanging Scutaro for a to-be-determined pitcher, and Mortensen just happens to be there.  Mortensen, a righty, as pitched in only twenty-four Major League games, thirteen of which were starts.  He is four and eight with a 5.12 ERA but had problems with his command, which yielded a high walk ratio.  With the Rockies, he posted a 3.86 ERA in sixteen appearances, performing better in relief than in a starter’s role.  He’ll come to camp and fight for a spot just like all the other pitchers.  Meanwhile, I’m more concerned with which veteran superstar we’re going to get.

We’ve signed Bard to a one year deal and Ellsbury to a one-year deal worth upwards of eight million dollars.  First of all, if we signed Crawford, who by the way just had wrist surgery, to as large a contract in terms of years as we did, Ellsbury deserves exponentially more than one year.  Has he not proven that he’s worth it? I mean, if we’re going to play the long-contract game, we should at least play it responsibly.  It’s ridiculous that we signed Crawford for as long as we did, and we only talked to Ellsbury about one year.  Although he did get a nice raise; he’ll make twice as much this coming year as he has in his entire career to date, and he’s worth every penny and probably more.  We’ve signed Morales to a one-year deal, and we’ve signed Vicente Padilla to a minor league deal, but according to Ben, he’ll come to camp as a starter.  But don’t worry because it’s all good.  Bobby V. spoke to Dice-K and saw a “good look in his eye,” so naturally all of our problems are immediately solved.

Orlando Cabrera has decided to retire.  We’ll never forget what he did for us in 2004.

In other news, the B’s beat the Panthers in a shootout.  We lost to the Bolts, beat the Devils, and lost to the Rangers in sudden death.

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