Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Blue Jays’

At least this series wasn’t a total loss.  In fact, we ended up winning it.  It’s always nice to end a series and a weekend on a high note, especially going into an off day.  This is the third of four off days we have in this month alone, but it’s a nice schedule before heading into the playoffs.  We’ll need to save up a lot now that our season has been extended.

Doubront pitched fantastically, giving up only two runs on four hits in seven innings.  It was great.  He gave up a run in the second thanks to a walk and two singles, and he gave up a solo shot to lead off the fifth and that was it.  Other than that, he looked like he was in complete control of the situation.

Morales, however, did not.  He almost got himself into trouble.  Scratch that; he got himself into trouble and then managed to get himself out of it.  The same can not be said of Uehara, who came on for the ninth and didn’t get himself into trouble in the first place.

We actually were down by one going into the bottom of the second, which Carp led off with a flyout.  Then Nava singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Drew singled, Nava scored on a single by Lavarnway, and then everybody came home on a blast by Bradley on his second pitch of the game, one of two knuckleballs of the at-bat.  He took the first one for a ball and launched the second one beyond the right field fence.

That was it until the sixth, which Papi led off by doing almost the exact same thing.  He went yard on his first pitch, also a knuckleball, which he also deposited beyond the right field fence.

So the final score was 5-2.  Both teams collected six hits each, but you really have to be careful when throwing knuckleballs.  I believe that this game has officially illustrated the following fact: just because you’re a knuckleball pitcher doesn’t mean you’re Tim Wakefield.

By the way, I’m glad Yaz finally has a statue.  It’s about time.

In other news, the Pats absolutely crushed the Bucs, winning 23-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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It is what it is.  Sometimes pitchers don’t get the run support they need, and sometimes they do.  Sometimes hitters don’t get the pitching support they need, and sometimes they do.  It’s the nature of the game.  I want to keep our momentum going right into Soxtober, but I guess it really is true when they say you can’t actually win them all.

Buchholz looked solid as he cruised through the first third of the game, facing the minimum in each of the first three innings.  But we lost the game because he got into trouble in the fourth.  He gave up a single, and after inducing a lineout, he gave up another single followed by an RBI double, a single, an RBI single, and an RBI throwing error, if you could call it that, as Buchholz tried to pick off the runner.

Despite giving up a single and a walk in the fifth, he escaped unscathed.  He gave up a walk in the sixth and that was it.  All in all, it was a great start when he wasn’t busy giving up all kinds of runs in many different ways.

Britton came on for the seventh.  Dempster actually came out for the eighth and almost had an eventful inning but ultimately pulled it together.  Thornton came on for the ninth and made the situation worse by giving up another run on a walk-double combination.

Unfortunately, this was just one of those nights where we couldn’t come up with enough run support.  We had scoring opportunities here and there, but we didn’t score our first run until the sixth, and then we didn’t score enough.

Drew singled to lead off the sixth and scored on a single by Gomes.  With one out in the seventh, Bogaerts reached on a fielding error, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout by Ross.

I was hoping that the two ones on the scoreboard would turn into three ones, and then the game would be tied, but it didn’t happen.  We lost, 4-2.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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This was a great game.  We played well and clean.  It just felt really right and natural to be scoring and pitching and winning.  It was just nice.

Pedroia doubled in the first and scored on a wild pitch.  With one out in the third, Nava doubled, and Papi and Napoli both walked.  When Carp drew a third straight walk, Nava came home.  Then we hit four straight singles in the seventh to score another run; Bradley, Pedroia, Nava, Papi, done.  And one double play later, another single by Carp scored two.  As one last statement of victory, Middlebrooks led off the eighth with a single and scored two outs later on a single by Pedroia.

Lester finally cracked in the fifth.  With two out, he gave up one run thanks to a single-single combination plus a two steals thrown in.  In the end, it was just the run in all seven glorious innings he pitched.  He gave up five hits and two walks, and he struck out eight.  And he was fantastic.

Tazawa came on for the seventh and gave up a double followed by a groundout.  Then he gave up a two-run home run.  And then Uehara came on.   And then the game ended and we won, 6-3.

So it was pretty ordinary as wins go, and we’ve been very fortunate this season to have had our fair share of those.  But winning, while awesome, wasn’t even the highlight.

The highlight was that we now officially own the AL East.  That’s right.  One day after clinching our playoff berth, we also clinched the division.  It’s our first division title since 2007, and it’s been a long time.  But if it has to do with 2007, I like it.  It’s ours.  Yes.  Let the champagne rain.  Now that’s what I call winning.  Let’s get this done!

Boston Globe Staff/Essdras M. Suarez

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Yesterday’s game was one of those old-fashioned pitcher’s duels where each team racks up quite a few hits and neither team can make any of them count.  And, like any true pitcher’s duel does, it came down to one run.  And this time we lost it.  We had it through six and a half innings, and then in the final third of the game, we lost it.

Peavy was absolutely lights-out through six.  Literally.  He didn’t allow any runs in that span.  He went one-two-three in the first, allowed a double in the second, went one-two-three in the third and fourth, allowed a single in the fifth, and went one-two-three in the sixth.  He was amazing.  He was efficient and in complete control of the entire  game throughout those six innings.  He was a master at work.

And on any other day, the trouble he ran into in the seventh would have been no big deal.  He gave up three consecutive singles, the third of which scored a run, before being replaced by Breslow.  Breslow secured the inning’s first out by inducing a sac fly, which caused an inherited runner to score, before ending the inning two outs later.

We should not be in a situation where two runs do us in.  We should always, or at least as often as possible, be in a situation in which two runs doesn’t cause us to lose.  But the teams were evenly matched.

Not that we didn’t have our opportunities.  We had two on in the first.  We had the bases loaded in the second.  We had one on in the third.  And with one out in the fourth, Nava doubled, Middlebrooks singled, and Nava scored when Ellsbury grounded into a force out.

That was our only run of the game, and even that run scored on a play that resulted in an out.  It completely killed the rally before it had much of a chance to get started.

Anyway, we went down in order in the fifth, two on in the sixth, one on in the seventh, and two on in the eighth.  We went down in order in the ninth.

Tazawa and De La Rosa teamed up to pitch a solid eighth.  If the seventh had been as solid as the eighth, or any other inning for that matter, we would have won one-zip.  In fact, we collected eleven hits to their six, so even though we only scored one run, in general we did seem to have some sort of an upper hand.  So it was pretty tough to accept a 2-1 loss in addition to the loss of the series.

Reuters Photo

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On Tuesday we got it done in extras; last night we weren’t so fortunate.  This one lasted one less inning, and we scored one less run.  Coincidence? I think not.

In the end, Lester pitched six and one-third innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits while walking two and striking out three.  He issued a walk in the first and another one in the second.  Then with two out in the third, a total debacle of a play resulted in Lester’s first run, which should have been classified as doubly unearned, if such a classification existed.  He gave up a single that turned into a run when he and Victorino each made a separate throwing error.  The ball hit Lester in the leg, and he tried to corral it and get it to Victorino.  The ball rolled along the right field line, and Victorino got it and fired.  Badly.  It was absolutely awful.  Thanks to these displays of truly abysmal fielding, what should have been just a single became instead what was essentially in practice an inside-the-park  home run.

Then in the fourth Lester gave up another run after a double-double combination.  He gave up another double in the fifth, and another run scored thanks to another double-double combination in the sixth.  He led off the seventh with a fielding error that put a runner on first before striking out his second batter and getting lifted in favor of Workman.  So, yes, Lester put at least one runner on base during every one of his innings.

Workman pitched the rest of the game.  And he was lights-out for most of it.  He seems to come more and more into his own with every additional inning he pitches.  And he did an excellent job yesterday.  If only he could have held on just a little bit longer.

Meanwhile, we went down in order three times: in the fourth, seventh, and eighth.  Other than those two innings, we put men on base and had a few different scoring opportunities from which to choose.  If we’d taken advantage of at least one more of those, perhaps the game would have ended differently.

We finally got on the board when Papi hit a solo shot in the sixth.  Pedroia had struck out, and the count was full.  He’d taken a two-seam for a ball, a slider for a strike, a two-seam for a ball, a slider for a strike, and a curveball for a ball.  Then he got another slider, but this one wasn’t so great, and Papi read it like a book.

Next, it was Napoli’s turn.  With one out in the ninth, Gomes walked, and with two out, Napoli hit a two-run homer on his second pitch.  Both of them were sinkers; he took the first one for a ball and uncorked enough power on the second one to send it beyond the right field fence.  Then Middlebrooks got hit and Ellsbury singled to load the bases with two out.  Talk about prime scoring opportunities.  But the Jays made a pitching change, and unfortunately this one did not work in our favor.

In the bottom of the tenth, he gave up a double, induced a groundout, and issued an intentional walk.  His baserunner stole second and then scored on a single, and that was the end of that right there.  The final score was 4-3.

Reuters Photo

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It’s a shame that we couldn’t get this done within nine innings.  But if we had to go into extras, it’s a good thing we won.  Coming off of our off day, we were well-rested and raring to go, and it showed.  We really held on and ground it out, and it’s always nice to really see all that hard work paying off.  Though the offense wasn’t as strong as it could have been, it was great to see the pitching, at least for the most part, pull its weight.

Dempster should pitch like this all the time.  Every start of his should be like this.  Actually, every start of everybody should be like this.  He pitched seven innings of one-run ball and gave up only four hits and two walks while striking out four and throwing eighty-eight pitches.  He tossed seven innings and only threw eighty-eight pitches.  That’s insanely efficient.  You generally expect your starter to throw around a hundred pitches if he lasts through seven.  And Dempster just threw eighty-eight.  Wow.

He issued his first walk in the second and his second walk in the sixth.  He went one-two-three in the first, third, fourth, and seventh.  He gave up his run in the fifth thanks to a double-single combination.

Meanwhile, we had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth but failed to deliver.  We were one run down when we finally struck back in the seventh.  Salty struck out to lead it off, but then the Jays made a pitching change and Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a single by Ellsbury.  Ellsbury stole third, moved to second on a groundout by Victorino, and scored on a single by Pedroia.  So then we were the ones with a one-run lead.

Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way.  Tazawa came on in the eighth and earned himself a blown save when he let the Jays tie it at two by giving up a solo shot on his fifth pitch of the night.  After he got two out and put two on in the ninth, Breslow came on and ended the inning.  He and Uehara combined to pitch a one-two-three tenth.

Just in time for our rally in the eleventh.  Drew flied out, Salty walked, Middlebrooks singled, Ellsbury grounded into a double play and then stole second, and Salty and Ellsbury both scored on a single by Victorino.  Pedroia’s flyout ended the inning, and Uehara’s one-two-three eleventh ended the game.  The final score was 4-2.

AP Photo

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Walkoffs are awesome.  That is a fact.  I am a fan of the walkoff, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen one like this.  I would not want to be on the receiving end of one of these.  No, I would not.  For the Jays, there is no question that this was absolutely and completely humiliating.  It was completely avoidable, and yet it happened anyway and, in retrospect of course, there was nothing they could do about it.  It happens sometimes; that’s the nature of the game.  But I would not want to be Toronto right now.

Napoli and Nava led off the second with back-to-back singles.  Napoli scored on a double by Lavarnway, and he and Nava both scored on a double by Brandon Snyder.

In the fourth, Dempster gave up three singles, a walk, and a groundout that resulted in two runs scoring.

Ellsbury singled and scored on a double by Gomes in the fifth.

Breslow came on for Dempster with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth but got through it.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the seventh; Wilson and Miller both pitched that inning.  Uehara came on in the ninth and gave up a solo shot that tied the game at four.

The Jays made a pitching change for the bottom of the ninth.  Iglesias grounded out, and then Snyder singled and Ellsbury walked.  Jonathan Diaz came in to pinch-run for Snyder, and the Jays made another pitching change.

I don’t know about you, but I was getting ready to settle in for a long night.  It just felt like one of those times when it was pretty unlikely for any late-inning heroics.

And, in fact, I was right.  There weren’t any.  There was just a late-inning mistake.

Adam Lind was out with a back injury, so Josh Thole, a catcher, had to step in at first.  Victorino stepped up to the plate and hit a ground ball.  But since the Jays’ first baseman was unused to playing first, the ball went off his glove, and Diaz scored from second base.

And so it was a 5-4 walkoff.  No heroics.  Just paying attention with the opposition made mistakes.

AP Photo

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