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Posts Tagged ‘Trey Hillman’

This is the best time of year, and with the Yankees series this weekend, it feels like it’s October already.  This could be it.  After last night’s win, we reduced our magic number to three.  We could clinch in Yankee Stadium and celebrate on New York soil, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is absolutely, positively, without a doubt something to smile about.

But let’s talk about last night first.  The final score was 10-3.  Buchholz was brilliant and was not responsible for any of those runs.  Six and two-thirds shutout innings pitched.  No walks.  Eight strikeouts.  If he didn’t allow five hits, he would’ve been on his way to a perfect game.  But even with the five hits, that outing was absolutely brilliant.  You can’t even get an outing like that out of some veterans, let alone some young upstart who had a horrible season last year.  But he’s on the rise.  All of his outings this year have been at least decent, and this was his sixth straight quality start.  He’ll be starting in October.  Just watch.

It was Ramirez who was responsible for the runs.  All three of them.  He recorded only two outs but gave up three runs on three hits, partly the courtesy of Billy Butler, who hit a two-run shot off him in the eighth.  In some ways, this is more concerning than if Buchholz had given up the runs, because this is a star of the bullpen we’re talking about.  We all know the importance of the bullpen in the postseason.  Now more than ever, they need to hold it together.  Especially Ramirez and Delcarmen, who haven’t been at their best lately.  Saito wasn’t great either; he pitched the rest of the game and allowed two hits and a walk.

Ellsbury went three for six with an RBI and two steals.  Pedroia went two for five with a double and an RBI.  Martinez went two for five with a walk.  Bay was hitless but walked.  Ortiz had a fantastic night, going three for five with a double, a walk, and three RBIs, one of which came on a leadoff homer in the fourth that he absolutely crushed.  Lowell hit and walked twice.  Kotchman and Gonzalez both went two for four with a double and a walk.  Gonzalez also stole.  Reddick walked twice.  So every single member of the starting lineup reached base at least once.

Needless to say, this was not Kansas City’s best work, but with five errors and two ejections, it was pretty entertaining.  Zack Greinke was ejected in the third for heckling home plate umpire Greg Gibson.  Then Anthony Lerew knocked Lowell’s helmet off in the fourth with a curveball, so Gibson warned Lerew and both benches.  Trey Hillman came out and had the liveliest exchange with an umpire that I’ve seen in a while, and he got tossed.  And the words continued even after that.  I’d say this particular crew was pretty sensitive.  I don’t think Lerew was trying to hit Lowell on purpose.  If you’re going to hit a batter on purpose, you do it with a fastball, not an off-speed pitch that’s notoriously difficult to control.

Congratulations to Terry Francona for recording his 561st win last night! With that win, he surpassed Mike Higgins to reach second place on the Red Sox all-time list, right behind Joe Cronin.  That’s heady company!

And so it begins.  Lester will take on Joba Champerlain in the Bronx tonight at 7:00PM.  There’s really nothing else to say, is there.  Except perhaps the always-appropriate, “Go Sox!” Let’s dominate.

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How does that even happen.  I saw it with my own eyes and I’m still not quite sure how the whole thing unfolded.  Either that or I was so disgusted that I didn’t want to dwell on it for too long.  Either way, apparently it did happen, so now we have to deal with it.  You win some, you lose some.  And some you just tank awfully, washed away in the rain, as it were.

The final score was 12-9.  Not in our favor.  We blew two six-run leads.  And because the score was 12-9 and not 12-1 or 12-3 or 12-5, this one has nothing to do with the offense.  This one falls squarely on the shoulders of the staff.

Starting with Wakefield, who was horrible.  Five innings, five runs (four earned; thank you, V-Mart) on five hits, seven walks.  Seven walks! The Royals didn’t need to bat at all; all they had to do was stand there while Wakefield actually gave them an invitation to first base! Only two strikeouts, and let’s not forget Mike Jacobs’s three-run shot in the fifth.  This was one of Wakefield’s worst performances of the entire season, if not the worst.  Technically, we have to cut him slack because he just came off the DL, and technically it’s not like we haven’t seen Wakefield pitch outings like this.  On the contrary, we’ve seen plenty of these.  But even if we do take those two facts into consideration, it still doesn’t mask the fact that he was awful.  He deserved the loss.  Not more than Bard deserved it, but he still deserved it.

And speaking of the bullpen, it was worst.  Much, much worse.  Where do I even start.  I guess I’ll just go in order because it was all just really bad.  Delcarmen continued his struggles by allowing four runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout.  We have starters in our rotation who don’t allow that much in an entire game.  Then Bard with the epically blown save, when he allowed two runs on two hits with a walk before getting out of the sixth.  Not one strikeout.  Only one retired batter.  I’m still fuming about it.  Wagner decided he didn’t want to feel left out and allowed a run on a hit with two walks while striking out three.  See, I think he missed the memo on this, but you’re supposed to record the three strikeouts before you allow all the other stuff.  That way, the other stuff doesn’t actually happen and you walk away with a win.  Ironically, Bowden, with the 9.00 ERA and the absolutely abysmal outing against the Yankees, was the only bright spot.  No runs, no hits, no walks, and no K’s either but twelve pitches thrown, eight of them strikes, to close out the ninth.  Of course by that time it was too late.  The loss was already in the books.

We had only one extra-base hit (a pretty epic one at that) all night; it’s amazing we scored nine runs playing small ball, because as the name would suggest, it’s the opposite of a slugfest.  Usually you don’t score many runs.  So that was something we can be happy about.  Ellsbury batted in two.  Pedroia went two for three and batted in one, and he’s starting to pick it up at the plate.  In addition to his throwing error and passed ball, V-Mart went two for four and batted in two.  Youk, Ortiz, and Gonzalez hit.  Baldelli went two for four.  And Jason Bay, last night’s offensive man of the hour, went two for five with three RBIs, plated with one swing of the bat.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Jason Bay struck again with our sole extra-base hit of the night, a towering three-run shot that practically screamed, “Sign me, Theo Epstein, sign me!”

I do have to say that the outcome was appropriate to the weather.  The downpour was so bad that Trey Hillman, Kansas City’s manager, couldn’t believe they actually played the game.  And how indeed the game wasn’t called short is amazing to me.  This has nothing to do with the fact that, had they called it, we would’ve won.  This has to do with the fact that it’s customary to call a game in torrential rain when one of the teams is significantly ahead, and I’d say we were significantly ahead.  Twice.  Which brings us back to the painful part.

This would be so much less concerning if it didn’t take place so close to October.  Wakefield reverting back to his inconsistent self is not exactly a plus heading into the playoffs.  Neither is this latest effort from the bullpen.  Like I said, we can take heart in the fact that we scored nine runs while playing small ball, but that won’t do much good if you score nine runs in a playoff game but the opposition scores more.

With Nick Green’s health a serious concern, Chris Woodward is back on the roster, courtesy of Junichi Tazawa, who was placed on the sixty-day DL with a mild left groin strain at about the same time he reached his innings limit for the season.  That’s one of the things I like and really respect about this organization.  We don’t rush our young stars through development.

Good thing the Yankees are slumping right now.  We’re still five games back.  But we need as many wins as possible if we’re seriously going to overtake them in the division standings, which is still doable.  I’m telling you, this smacks of 2004, when we surged so powerfully late in the season that we barely missed the division but had all the momentum necessary to run away with a World Series.  Kansas City’s six-run sixth inning may not make it seem like it, but I think we’re definitely a force in October, regardless of last night’s complete and total implosion.  Tonight’s matchup is Paul Byrd at Zack Greinke.  We have work to do.

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