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Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Blue Jays’

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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Our winning streak stops at four.  I don’t know about you, but I miss the earlier days of the season when all we had to do to win was basically just show up.  Now it just seems like winning doesn’t come as easily, like we’re kind of uncomfortable.  We can’t put together a lengthy winning streak of note, and it’s harder to chalk our losses up to the nature of the game.  It’s true that you can’t necessarily win them all, but it’s also true that you shouldn’t have to lose just because the rotation or the bullpen or the hitters failed in some way.  And of course it never helps when fielding is involved.

Doubront gave up a walk and then an RBI single in the first, and he gave up a solo shot to lead off the sixth.  Wilson replaced him one walk and one flyout into the seventh.  Wilson took care of the rest of the seventh just fine.

So as you can see, Doubront was not the problem.  He gave up two runs on five hits over the course of six and one-third innings.  He walked three, struck out six, and did just fine.  He looked fairly comfortable, and he put us in a position to win.

Unfortunately, we scored as many runs as Doubront gave up: two.  Both of which we scored in the seventh.  The Jays had made a pitching change.  Salty and Iglesias hit back-to-back singles.  Salty moved to third on a throwing error but was out at home on a fielder’s choice by Jonathan Diaz.  The Jays made another pitching change and Ellsbury singled to load the bases.  And then Victorino singled in both Iglesias and Diaz.

Admittedly, that is not the strongest response that one would hope for in a bases-loaded situation.  But thanks to both Doubront and Wilson, that modest response ended up tying the game at two.

So the fact that we lost can’t be pinned on the offense alone.  It would have been nice to score more runs, obviously.  But is it not the job of the relief corps to be able to handle these kinds of situations?

Tazawa gave up a single followed by a two-run home run in the eighth.  And Breslow gave up a single that turned into a run on another single in the ninth, followed by a run that scored on a fielding error.

And so we ended up losing, 6-2.  The relief corps let the Jays get back on top, and we didn’t counter with any damage.

AP Photo

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We scored seven runs yesterday too.  Except we didn’t score them all in one inning.  We decided to spread them out this time.  The game was basically still decided during one inning, but this time it was two runs that made the difference, not seven all at once.  Even so, it’s fun to watch us hit in the clutch.

In the second, Napoli walked, Nava singled, and both scored on a double by Drew.  Ellsbury led off the second with a single and scored on a single by Napoli.  With one out in the fourth, Drew doubled but had to be replaced by Brandon Snyder; Iglesias singled, and they both scored on a single by Ellsbury.

And last but most certainly not least, there was the seventh inning, without which we would have lost, all else being equal.  Victorino and Pedroia led it off with back-to-back singles.  Papi struck out, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch, which didn’t matter in the long run because Napoli walked.  Gomes came in to pinch-hit for Nava and singled in the go-ahead run.  With the bases still loaded, the Jays made a pitching change but promptly walked Salty to give us insurance.

Webster took the mound to start last night.  Three of the four runs he allowed scored in the fifth.  He gave up a single and issued a walk, followed by a force out and then two consecutive RBI singles followed by a successful sac fly.  He repeated the single-sac fly combination in the sixth.

Bailey came out for the seventh.  At that point, we were leading the Jays by one.  You know where this is going.  With two out, Bailey made a big mistake and gave up a solo shot, tying the game.

He was replaced by Miller after that.  Miller pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.  So Webster got a no-decision, Bailey got a blown save, Miller got the win, and Uehara got the save.

Because fortunately we managed to pull off a 7-5 win.

Getty Images

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It’s funny how subjective this game is.  There’s a winner and a loser, and depending on which side you’re on you’re either really happy or really not-so-happy.  That’s always been in the back of my mind whenever the one bad inning features prominently in a game.  We’ve seen it happen to both our pitchers and our hitters.  Sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s good.  And sometimes it’s just ridiculously awesome.

Lester did phenomenal work yesterday.  It wasn’t necessarily the best he’s got, but it’s progress.  You have to start somewhere, and his performance was a great first step.

His line was good.  He gave up four runs one five hits with three walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.  But more importantly, he actually pitched even better than that suggests.

His line is not that bad.  Actually, his line isn’t bad at all.  He gave up two singles in the fifth that both turned into runs thanks to a double.  He started the eighth by giving up two singles, so he was replaced by Tazawa, who allowed a walk to load the bases.  One run scored on a sac fly.  A wild pitch advanced the runners, and another run scored on a groundout.  Since both were inherited, they were charged to Lester.

But let us now consider his other innings.  All of which were one-two-three.  Except for the innings during which Lester was charged with runs, he had one-two-three innings.  Sure, he benefited from the double play, but who doesn’t? An out is an out, and you take it when you can get it.  This may not be the best we’ve seen from him, but it’s certainly better than much of what we’ve seen from him recently.

Tazawa finished off the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth, picking up the save.

Lester was rewarded with a well-deserved win, which he obtained thanks to a strong offensive showing.  And when I say strong, I mean curiously strong.  And when I say curiously strong, I mean that we managed to cram a game’s worth of runs, which can actually be considered more than a game’s worth of runs when you think about how many close ones we’ve played in recent weeks, into only one inning.

That’s right.  The entire game was won in the second inning alone.  We didn’t score before the second inning.  And we didn’t score after the second inning.  But we scored during the second inning, and that was enough.

I don’t even remember the last time we managed to score a whopping seven runs in a single frame.  That’s crazy.  I mean, it was awesome.  But how often do you get to determine a game’s fate before the first third of it is even over? Pretty cool.

Papi and Carp started the massive rally by working back-to-back walks.  Nava and Salty followed with back-to-back singles that plated one run each.  Drew doubled in Nava, and Iglesias and Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles that each scored one run.  Victorino grounded into a double play, moving Iglesias to third.  Pedroia crushed a massive shot out toward the Monster two runs, Papi singled, and Carp struck out to end it.

One inning.  Seven runs.  And a 7-4 win.  Sounds good to me.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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