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Posts Tagged ‘TD Banknorth Garden’

That’s the only way I can describe last night.  I experienced pain when I watched that.  I honestly felt like I was in some strange alternate universe.  Garza was making a bid for a perfect game into the sixth.  It was a very surreal experience, like an especially bad nightmare, only worse, because it was real.  Awful.  Just awful.  Beckett took the loss, and rightly so.  Only 4.2 innings and he gives up seven runs on ten hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.  One home run, the first of Michel Hernandez’s Major League career, and an ERA of 7.22.  All I have to say to Hernandez is that he should enjoy it, because he won’t be hitting another homer off Beckett anytime soon.  But seriously.  He reached one hundred pitches in the fifth.  I don’t know who this guy is or what he’s doing wearing Number 19, but he isn’t Josh Beckett.  I know Josh Beckett.  Josh Beckett would never pitch this way.  Which brings me to my next point: I have no idea what’s going on with him.  We know he’s healthy.  That was his problem last year, that and the long balls, but this year he’s fine and in great shape.  So I don’t know.  He started the game fine, had a fourteen-pitch, one-two-three first inning, but it all went downhill from there.  But whatever it is, he needs to take care of it.  Now.  Right now.

But wait, it gets worse.  Hunter Jones gave up his first run of the year.  Fine.  It happens.  We knew the 0.00 ERA wouldn’t last for ever.  One bad pitch and Evan Longoria hit it out.  Saito had a perfect seventh.  So for all intents and purposes we cruised until the eighth, when Javy Lopez gave up five runs.  Five.  On four hits and a walk with no strikeouts.  He didn’t even finish the inning.  Then Jonathan Van Every came on to pitch the rest of the eighth and got us out of it.  Incidentally, he has a 0.00 ERA.  And now I get to explain why we, unlike the Yankees, have nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of.  It’s one thing to throw your outfielder on the mound when your starter has an ERA above 20.00 because your bullpen has an ERA above 5.00 and is the shallowest in the league.  It’s quite another to have multiple relievers with ERAs under 2.00, including two that’re still 0.00, who’ve been working long shifts lately and who need a rest.  Van Every got two outs.  That was it.  We’re not talking about an inning of work to bail out an abysmal starter.  We’re talking about giving the best relievers in the game a break during a blowout.  So, no, Van Every is not Nick Swisher, because our bullpen is actually functional, thank you very much.  (Technically, saying that our bullpen is “functional” is the understatement of the century, but you know what I mean.)

I’ll say this about being on the receiving end of a bid for a perfect game or no-hitter.  It makes losing less painful, because the only thing you’re focused on is ending that bid, is getting a walk and then a hit.  So it takes the edge off of losing, because as long as you end the bid, you’re happy, and everything else just seems like icing on the cake.  And for that, we thank Jacoby Ellsbury, who jammed a ball back to Garza, who couldn’t come up with it.  Jason Bartlett tried to throw him out at first, just like everyone else in the league, but as we know there’s no way he doesn’t beat that out.  So a masterful infield hit for Ellsbury, and a great hustle down the line to end it.  Two batters later, Ortiz was his first walk.  I mean we knew all along that Garza wouldn’t actually be able to fully contain a lineup like ours.  It just doesn’t happen.  Unfortunately we’ve been in this situation before, like last year with the Angels, but we always get out of it somehow.

By the way, Pedroia was safe.  Ortiz walked with nobody on base because the umpire ruled that Pedroia was the second out in a double play.  Let me tell you something.  Pedroia was safe by a mile.  It was so good to see Tito go out there, because it doesn’t matter what the score is.  If a guy hustles, he deserves a fair call.

So that’s pretty much it for last night.  As you  can imagine, the box score is really boring.  Very one-sided.  All these stats for Tampa Bay and for us, nothing.  I’m telling you, it was painful.  Lowell’s hitting streak stopped at thirteen games.  Dave Roberts will be joining NESN, which I’m psyched about.  Jerry Remy was sick yesterday so Buck Martinez filled in, which was interesting.  Turns out that, not only did Van Every hit his first career home run off his former team, but he hit it off his former roommate.  Apparently he received congratulatory text messages from the Tribe but wants to give Jensen Lewis some time to cool off a little bit.  I’d say that’s wise, because that was a monster of a home run.  And last but not least, A-Rod was probably on steroids as early as high school and HGH in 2004 with the Yankees.  And he tipped his friends on opposing teams to pitches.  It’s sad that these things don’t surprise me anymore.  Seems like A-Rod always manages to come up with a new low.

We need a win.  A win would be nice.  We’re tied for first, but I think we could use a little something to break that tie.  And to maintain our good record.  And to improve.  And to make sure we don’t fall behind.  Yes, I think a win would be very nice indeed.

In other news, it’s go time at the TD Banknorth Garden tonight.  Round Two, Game 1, 7:30PM.  Let’s do it.

AP Photo
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That was close.  Too close.  With Josh Beckett on the mound, it really shouldn’t have come to that.  It’s a win, and I’ll take it, but it wasn’t his best work.  Decent, but not spectacular, and after seeing what he’s capable of, you come to expect spectacular from him.  Beckett was cruising, having himself a great outing, working with a six-run lead, until the fifth inning, during which the O’s scored four runs.  Those were the only runs they scored, but in a single inning? Against Beckett? To be fair, only three of those were earned (the fourth run was a courtesy of Nick Green, who missed a catch), which isn’t that bad, but still.  At least if the runs are spread out, you can say he had a little issue here, a little issue there, but if a team scores three runs against you in a single inning, your first thought is something’s up, and it’s not just Beckett’s ERA.  Beckett lasted through the sixth.  Three earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts.  He walked four.  No home runs though, so I’m happy about that.  Not a horrible outing, but not a great one either.  And from your Number One starter, you need great.  Consistently.  Especially if your Number One starter is Josh Beckett.

But on the bright side, the offense took care of him.  I think it’s safe to say we’re officially on an upward climb as far as our hitting is concerned.  We’ve been doing some great stuff at the plate these past few games.  In fact, we had a four-run inning of our own in the third.  David Ortiz finally had a multi-hit game, going two for five.  Youk went four for five and batted in four (count ’em: four) runs.  He is just on fire.  He’s batting .467.  And he cranked a very powerful three-run long ball in the third, his third of the year.  If he hit a triple last night he would’ve completed the circuit for the first time in his career.  Lowell wen two for four with an RBI.  And the captain went one for two with two walks and an RBI.  So those are the six runs, with good hitting up and down the order.  Bay stole and Pedroia got caught.

The relief was perfect.  Okajima and Saito managed to keep it together, allowing one hit and striking out four between them.  Paps got the save and lowered his ERA to 1.69.  Beckett got the win, so he’s two and one.

Red Sox Nation can celebrate the home opener at the new Yankee Stadium, which the Yankees lost miserably to the Indians by a score of 10-2.  But just to make sure they got the message, the Indians absolutely slaughtered them last night with a 22-4 victory.  That’s not a mistake; I actually meant to write 22-4.  The Indians scored fourteen runs in the second inning, good for a Yankees record of most runs given up in a single frame.   How long did it take? Thirty-seven minutes.  The last time a club scored fourteen runs in a single frame was about six years ago when we did it against the Marlins.  The last time the Tribe did it was in 1950.  Wang and Anthony Clagget were on in that inning, and that’ll raise Wang’s ERA to 34.50.  Twenty-five hits in total for the Tribe, and the twenty-two runs ties the most they’ve ever surrendered at home.  I’m telling you, no matter how many times I read about this game, I just can’t stop laughing.  I mean it’s just sad.  Sad and pathetic.  And awesome.  The Yankees have to have the worst bullpen in Major League Baseball.  At this point I think Joe Girardi should seriously think about sitting Wang and putting Swisher in the rotation.

In other news, the Bruins had an absolutely outstanding night last night, burying the Habs, 5-1, at the Garden.  Two goals in the first period, three in the second.  Marc Savard scored two and almost had a hat trick.  Carey Price had no chance.  So we head to Montreal two games ahead, and if this continues I think we’ll sweep in four.  We play again tomorrow at 7:00PM.

Lowell Sun

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as thrilled as anybody about the comeback.  We may struggle and we may slump, but at the end of the day we did what we do best: we score the runs that needed to be scored, we got ourselves back in it, and we won big.  10-8.  The moral of the story? Never count us out.  I think we’ve more than proven that with our performances in recent Octobers.  The ability to come back from big deficits is one of the most valuable skills a baseball team can have.  But even more valuable is the ability to not need to use that skill.  And that’s where Brad Penny comes in.

Penny pitched only three innings and during that time gave up eight runs on six hits with five walks.  Only one strikeout.  Markakis hit a grand slam in the Orioles’ seven-run second inning.  It was very ugly.  Very, very ugly.  So not only did Penny dig a huge hole and throw the lineup into it, he was also pulled early enough to have to leave it to the bullpen to pull it out.  Which they did in spectacular fashion.  Our five relievers combined to give up five hits in six innings with four strikeouts and only one walk.  No runs.  Ramirez, who still has an ERA of 0.00, got the win, and Paps picked up his third save.  So the bullpen’s been doing some fantastic work lately.  They’re really stepping up to the plate, shouldering some hefty workloads, and getting the job done.  But that’s not the point.  The bullpen shouldn’t have to.  Penny may be our fifth starter, but a starter is a starter, and starters shouldn’t give up eight runs on six hits, including a grand slam.  Yes, the bullpen came in and was perfect.  Yes, the lineup turned it on and was brilliant.  But we can’t forget that that perfection and that brilliance weren’t a luxury yesterday.  They were a necessity because Penny had to be bailed out.

With that said, there’s still plenty to celebrate about our offensive assault.  I think it’s safe to say the lineup is coming around.  The last three games (I’m including that extra-innings loss because as I said there were some high points) have really turned things toward a better direction.  We scored four in the second to answer Baltimore’s seven, one in the third courtesy of a solo home run by who but JD Drew, three in the fifth, and two in the sixth.  Bay hit a monstrous two-run shot in the second inning.  Ellsbury went two for five with an RBI, so he’s finally coming around.  Lowell was perfect at the plate.  Pedroia the Destroyah was perfect at the plate.  Drew went two for two and walked not once, not  twice, but three times.  And Nick Green went two for four.  So not only did we come back from a seven-run deficit, and not only did we throw in a couple of long balls, we did all of that with some timely hitting from a few slumping guys, none of whom were David Ortiz.  You might say that’s a bad thing, and you’d be right, but hey, at least we know some key members of the lineup are finding their rhythm, and at least we know we’re not dependent on any one bat to get it done.  So that’s three RBIs for Bay, two for Green, and one each for Drew, Ellsbury, Lowell, and Ortiz.  Yeah, I’d say that’s something to smile about.

With Dice-K on the DL, Justin Masterson will get the call to start on Monday.  Finally.  I’ve been itching to see him in the rotation since he began relieving.  I really hope he gets a win.  And apparently Dice-K’s on the DL with a “shoulder strain,” not arm fatigue, but really the damage has been done.  I’m not a fan of the World Baseball Classic.  Most definitely not a fan.

In other news, the Bruins took Game 1 of the Stanley Cup quarterfinals from the Habs.  A 4-2 victory in the TD Banknorth Garden, and the crowd was feeling it.  I’m telling you, it’s great to see Boston’s hockey town tradition again.  Game 2 tonight at 8:00PM, and then it’s off to Montreal.

AP Photo

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Let’s set the stage.  We’re on a losing streak and in last place.  Wakefield takes the mound hoping to end that against a team that always gives us trouble.  This is after a twelve-inning loss pitched almost exclusively by the bullpen, so the relief pitchers are shot.  So the longer Wake can pitch the better, and if he holds the A’s at bay that’s good too.  And if the lineup gives him run support that’s great.  But the priority is for Wake to go deep and give the ‘pen a much-needed and well-deserved rest.

So Wake considered all that and went out and did his job.  He said after the fact that the only thing he was thinking about going into the game was that he needed to go deep because of what happened two nights ago.  That’s a real team player.  This is the guy who refused to pitch in the 2007 World Series because he was hurt and knew he wouldn’t be on.  That was what he wanted to do.  And that’s exactly what he did.  It just so happens that it was a no-hitter bid into the eighth inning.  Kurt Suzuki quickly took care of that with a base hit into left field.  At least it was a clean hit and not the result of some questionable play.  But it was a no-hitter bid into the eighth.  The knuckleball was dancing and everything.  We’ve seen him do this before but not as deep; he had a bid going last year in Tropicana Field against the Rays that ended in the sixth or seventh.  But he really deserved that no-hitter.  Like I said, he’s a team player, and he continues to be Boston’s unsung hero year in and year out.  If you ever seriously need a pitcher to step up, Wakefield’s always right there.  He went the distance.  It was his first complete game in exactly three years; his last was on April 15, 2006.  He ended up giving up two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts to bring his ERA down to 3.00.

And I give a lot of credit to George Kottaras.  He hasn’t even made five Major League Starts, and he already was well on his way to calling a no-no.

The other great thing about yesterday was that, finally, we batted around.  I’m telling you, we looked like ourselves again.  Bay went two for four with a walk, and Lowell was perfect at the plate.  An RBI for Nick Green, two RBIs each for Lowell and Ellsbury,  and three for Drew.  Lowell hit a two-run homer in the second, and Drew hit a three-run homer in the eighth.  We scored six runs in that inning.  When a no-hitter is in progress, there is nothing more irritating than having your team bat around, but in retrospect it was fantastic.  This could be the break-out of some of our slumping guys.  I mean Lowell and Drew found their slugging strokes, and Ellsbury batted one in.  For once, we batted .500 with runners in scoring position.  The only possible downside this is that it takes time to put together all those runs, and Wakefield had a twenty-five-minute wait before going out to pitch the bottom of the eighth.  It’s possible that’s what cost him the no-hitter.  When a pitcher’s in the middle of a no-no, they sit in the dugout and nobody talks to them.  Baseball is a very superstitious game.  It’s possible that, with all that time to himself, Wakefield thought things over a little too much.  But like I said, either way he did his job.  Takashi Saito sat down as soon as he got up, and Wakefield went right back out there and pitched the ninth.  One thing is most definitely for sure: ladies and gentlemen, Tim Wakefield’s still got it!

There were some scary defensive moments before the eighth.  One of the A’s reached on an error by Lowell, so that scoring saved the bid.  Then Nick Green made a phenomenal catch in the seventh to save it; he jumped up and twisted to grab the ball.  And of course Ellsbury was very busy in center field and chased down a fast-flying ball in the eighth.  Did the same thing for Buchholz.  An interesting statistic down the road will be how many no-hitters Ellsbury started for.

But really we can’t complain.  Wakefield did exactly what he wanted to do: rest the ‘pen.  Anything else was just a bonus.  But what is it about The Coliseum? Schilling had a bid going into the ninth inning but couldn’t close the deal.  (That was a bit different, though, because he shook Tek off, but still.) On the bright side, there were a lot of Sox fans in the crowd, so it felt a little like home in that respect.

Lowrie will not need wrist surgery, Lugo could start his rehab next week, and Smoltz is scheduled to start his rehab on Saturday.  Dice-K is on the DL with arm fatigue.  No surprise there.  The World Baseball Classic is obviously at fault.  Why else would arm fatigue start to kick in during his second start of the season? And because Bud Selig is responsible for instituting the World Baseball Classic, you could argue that Bud Selig is at fault.  So thank you very much, Bud, for knocking out our Number 2 starter less than a month into the season while we’re trying to emerge from one of the worst season starts we’ve ever had.

In other news, the TD Banknorth Garden will be called simply the TD Garden starting in July.  But what I really like is the fact that TD is keeping “Garden” in the name.  That’s key.  And the Bruins start their playoff run today at 7:00PM against the Canadiens in Boston.  We’re coming off a great win against the Islanders, and we’ve played well all season long, especially against the Canadiens.  I’m so psyched.  Let’s see what we can do.

Everyday Weekender

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