Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Vezina Trophy’

Well, we’re more or less right back to where we started.  We’re only half a game out of first place.  This past two-week stretch didn’t go nearly as well as I’d hoped; I thought that Interleague would power us way past the Yanks for good.  Apparently not.  But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s recap.

After we swept the Yankees, we played the Jays, who we also swept before heading into a day off.  We won the first game by a score of 5-1; Buchholz pitched a stellar outing and the first third of the lineup delivered in a big way.  We absolutely crushed them the following day, 16-4; Lackey’s mediocrity didn’t matter in the face of eighteen hits, five of which were for extra bases and two of which were three-run homers, one each for Tek and Papi.  The 14-1 series closer was just as decisive; Lester pitched eight innings of one-run ball, and we hit six doubles and four homers.

We completely failed to carry any of that momentum into our series opener with the Rays; if only we could have transferred some runs from those games to that one.  We were shut out, four-zip.  Beckett returned the following day to pitch a complete-game shutout, his finest performance of the season, hands down.  In fact, take away a ridiculous and nonsensical hit down the third-base line that was barely a hit at all, and he’d have had a perfect game.  Not a no-hitter.  A perfect game.  He did not issue a single walk during those nine innings.  He was absolutely remarkably brilliant.  It was the first one-hitter of his career, and in retrospect, that was one of the most infuriating hits I have ever witnessed in my entire baseball-watching life.  I really can’t stress that enough.  We ended up winning the series; Buchholz pitched a short but ultimately sweet five innings, and our four runs were enough to handle the Rays’ two.

We then went home to take on the Brewers.  We crushed, 10-4; Lackey, Gonzalez, and Papi delivered solid performances.  We lost the next day, 4-2; Lester just didn’t have it.  But we crushed in the rubber game, scoring four times as many runs to win it, 12-3; Wake pitched masterfully for eight innings.

Then the Padres came by and we crushed again, 14-5.  Andrew Miller started that one; he didn’t pick up the win, but he did have some flashes of brilliance.  We lost the series by dropping the last two.  First, we lost, 5-4; Aceves didn’t have it.  Then, we lost, 5-1; Lackey really didn’t have it.  He didn’t even make it through the fourth.

Then we had another off day, and we are now in Pittsburgh playing the Pirates.  On Friday, we lost again, 3-1.  Lester didn’t have it, and the lineup was obviously out of whack due to the fact that we were in a National League park, so the pitchers had to hit.  On Saturday, we lost again, 6-4, despite three long balls.  Thankfully we preserved a shred of dignity on Sunday with a win, 4-2, to close out the series.  Miller pitched decently, and we only had one extra-base hit; naturally it helped that the Pirates made four errors, since all but one of our runs were unearned.

Youk and Beckett got sick.  Drew has a bruised left eye.  Lowrie, Crawford, and Buchholz hit the DL.  Jenks is still on it.  Paps was given a two-game suspension as the resolution of the brawl earlier this month.  Gonzalez tallied his one thousandth career hit, a triple against the Brewers.  Ellsbury garnered American League Player of the Week honors.  Our nine-game hitting streak that ended with our series opener with the Rays was the longest winning streak in the Major Leagues to date.

When we won, we played really, really well.  It’s just that we shouldn’t have lost to those Interleague teams.  The health issues are concerning, but the best you can do is hope they’ll end quickly so that everything can return to normal and we can get back to steamrolling over the opposition.  Right now, we’re in a good place.  I don’t think we’ll be phased by any amount of health issues after what happened last year.  Would I have liked to head into Interleague firing on all cylinders? Obviously.  But at least we’d been playing easier teams.  Now, though, we’ve got the Phillies.  That series will obviously be pitched as a World Series preview.  More importantly, we’re just going to have to keep our heads down and play our game.  You have to win first in order to get to October.

In other news, for the first time since 1972, the Boston Bruins have brought the Stanley Cup to what with this championship has truly become, in every sense and on every front, Title Town.  On June 15, 2011, down to Game Seven, the Boston Bruins became the champions of the entire National Hockey League.  The final score was 4-0.  A thirty-seven-save shutout by Tim Thomas, winner of the 2011 Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophies.  Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored two goals, the last of which was an empty-netter.  There was a victory parade.  There was an appearance on the Today Show and at Fenway Park.  But it really started to sink in when Zdeno Chara, winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award, hoisted the cup.  He picked it up like it weighed nothing, and you knew every single Boston fan could see it, and not because he’s so tall.  To see that cup being held by a Bruin in Vancouver was just incredible.  It was at once unbelievable and thoroughly believable.  The glory-basking is epic.  It was one of the greatest moments in any Boston sports fan’s Boston sports life.  Congratulations to the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins! Welcome home to Title Town!

Getty Images

Read Full Post »

I am going to resist all temptation to make various announcements of corner-turning, groove-setting, and definitive down-settling.  Clearly we have learned that there is no point in that when it comes to Dice-K.  Claiming that Dice-K has turned a corner is currently as futile as claiming the Sox are doomed due to our poor start to the season.  We thought the entire season of 2007, his most consistent since coming over from Japan, was one enormous episode of corner-turning.  And he went right back to his inconsistency the following season.  So while it is true that, sine coming over from Japan, even including all of 2007, these last two starts have probably been the best consecutive starts he’s ever had here, I’m not going to analyze long-term implications of these two consecutive quality starts.  I’m just going to analyze this one particularly awesome start, which was even better than his last.

I don’t know where he found the stuff he used last night, but he dug deep.  He dug real deep.  Like I said, if you thought his previous start was good, last night was even better.  Granted, it was probably only better by an inning; his previous start lasted seven, and this one lasted eight.  Either way, he’s only allowed two hits in the last fifteen innings he’s pitched.  In fact, he is the first Red Sox pitcher to complete consecutive outings of at least seven innings with only one hit allowed in each since Pedro Martinez did it in 2002, the first to do it since Howard Ehmke did it in 1923.  Dice-K is the last pitcher to do it in the Major Leagues since Vicente Padilla in 2009.  (Incidentally, Padilla uses the Eephus pitch and can get it down to about fifty miles per hour.) That’s some heady company.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Dice-K fired off eight one-hit shutout innings.  That one hit was the result of a ball that bounced off his glove for an infield single in the second inning; take that away, he stays in to pitch the ninth for a no-hitter.  (Although you never know; maybe having that one hit out of the way lifted the pressure and allowed him to pitch as well as he did.  But after watching him, game after game, pitch himself out of all manner of jams with runners in scoring position like it’s no big deal, I’m rather inclined to believe that he performs exceptionally well under pressure.) He walked three and struck out nine.  Paps got the day off, so Tito went to Bard for the ninth, who ended the game with thirteen pitches.

Dice-K threw 115 pitches, seventy-eight for strikes.  That means that sixty-eight percent of his pitches were strikes.  That’s a really high percentage.  Of his nine strikeouts, seven were  swinging; only two were looking.  Two were finally put away with four-seams, two with two-seams, three with changeups, one with a slider, and one with a cutter.  All were achieved with at most seven pitches and as few as three pitches.  He put away the fifth inning with strikeouts alone.

His best pitches were also those he threw most frequently: the two-seam, the cutter, the four-seam, and the changeup.  He threw in some curveballs and sliders that weren’t working too well but added variety.  His highest pitch count in an inning was seventeen in the second; he issued a walk and the infield single in that inning; that was the extent of any jam in which he would find himself.  His lowest was eleven in the eighth.  He varied his speed, his release point was tight, and he aggressively attacked the strike zone without leaving anything out over the middle.  He was more consistent during those eight innings than he has been during his entire Major League career.  As in his previous start, it just seemed like he had life in his arm.

In the second, Lowrie doubled and came home on a single by Crawford.  In the third, Ellsbury singled, stole second, advanced to third on Pedroia’s flyout, and came home on a single by Gonzalez.  In the fifth, Ellsbury singled and came home with Youk, who was back in the lineup yesterday, on a ninety-three mile-per-hour four-seam, the fourth pitch of his at-bat, that he crushed to the opposite field.  That would be his fourth home run of the year, and it was big.  In the sixth, Crawford doubled and came home on a double by who but Jason Varitek that actually missed being a home run by inches.

So we won, five-zip.  We collected four extra-base hits en route to a hit total of eleven, left seven men on base, and went four for fourteen with runners in scoring position.  Ellsbury went two for five and is officially becoming our official leadoff man.  Lowrie and Crawford both went two for four.

All in all, that was a fine display of good baseball.  Some power, some run manufacturing, and a whole heap of excellent pitching.  It’s just nice to see starts like this from Dice-K, even if it’s only every once in a while.  It’s frustrating to know that he can pitch like this but doesn’t on a regular basis for whatever reason, but at least we know it’s in him and he’s got it.  Crawford finally has a multi-hit game to his credit, which is a step in the right direction, especially since he was dropped to eighth in the order.  It’s all coming together really nicely.  The standings may not show it yet, but we’re rolling right along.

In other news, after a harrowing and excruciatingly suspenseful game, the Bruins finally won, 2-1, in double overtime.  Tim Thomas was nominated for the Vezina Trophy and completely deserves to win it.

Getty Images

Read Full Post »

That was the most infuriating regular season loss I have ever experienced.  It was completely unjust.  It was completely unfair.  And I will even be so bold as to make the claim that it was completely improbably; the Marlins just got excruciatingly lucky.  Lucky that Nolasco was on and that then we didn’t get a chance to demolish their bullpen.  After five and a half innings of play, the score of 2-1 in favor of the Marlins became official, and rain stopped play for the rest of the night.  They called the game.  Baseball is the only sport where you don’t have to finish a game for the score to be set down in the record books.  That makes sense when we’re slaughtering the Twins, 10-1.  That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever when we’re playing a bad National League team at home and we’re losing by a run at the halfway mark.  In what alternate universe could that possibly be presented in a logical light? I have no idea, and quite frankly I have no desire to find out.

Lester pitched five, gave up two runs on eight hits, walked none, and struck out four.  The two runs came on two long balls, one to Uggla and one to Ronny Paulino.  He just didn’t keep the ball down in the zone on those pitches.  His strength is that deadly cut fastball, and those fastballs didn’t do much of anything.

Youk hit a huge solo shot in the first.  Landed in the Monster.  I’m telling you, it’s impossible to throw a fastball by this man.  He may be in a bit of a slump now but he’ll come out of it.  Besides, he still walks, so even though his average may be taking a bit of a dip, his on-base percentage is still through the roof.  That’s all we were able to do before we were rudely interrupted by the rain and subsequently told to take a loss we probably didn’t deserve.  I firmly believe that, given more time, we had a very legitimate chance of limiting the Marlins to two runs while scoring more ourselves.

Dustin Pedroia lost an RBI from Chien-Ming Wang’s start in the Yankees series.  Major League Baseball decided to make it an error on Swisher instead of a ground-rule double.  Speaking of Pedroia, his slump is over.  Not that it was actually going to last.  And David Ortiz moved up from sixth to fifth in the batting order.  That’s a good sign.  That’s a very good sign.

So, yeah.  We lost the series finale to the Marlins.  Whatever.  It’s done, it’s over, onward and forward to the Braves.  Kenshin Kawakami at countryman Dice-K.  If Dice-K can just keep us in it, we’ll find a way to win this one.  Besides, it’s about time he had himself another win.  The man is one and four.  Our second starter is one and four.  That needs to change.  He hasn’t been solid, but once he finds his groove and establishes a rhythm for the season, we’ll be good to go.  But I’ll say this.  No matter how badly we play, and no matter how we lose, why we lose, or who we lose to, we can take comfort in the fact that we are not the New York Yankees, who just dropped two games to the Washington Nationals, worst team in baseball.  Although, technically, for just this series, that is now no longer true.  At least for this series, the Yankees are, technically and by the numbers, the worst team in baseball.  And that is most definitely something to smile about.

In other news, the Bruins cleaned up at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas last night.  Tim Thomas won the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the best goaltender.  Zdeno Chara, with the fourth most goals and twelfth most points among defenders, won the Norris Trophy, awarded to the best defenseman.  Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez both won the William Jennings Trophy for each having played a minimum of twenty-five games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it.  And finally, last but most certainly not least, Claude Julien won the Jack Adams Award, given to the coach of the year.  Congratulations to the boys in black ‘n’ gold! They most definitely earned it.  Why they couldn’t add the Stanley Cup to that list is completely beyond me.  Just sayin’.  They’re obviously capable, but in Boston if there’s one thing we know, it’s that sometimes these things just happen.

Tubsolution

Read Full Post »

Every time Masterson starts, he wins.  Or if he doesn’t win, he gets saddled with an undeserved no decision.  But he doesn’t lose.  We talk all the time about how young the kid is and how he pitches well beyond his years, and how he looks like a veteran on the mound every start.  No so last night.  Last night he looked like some kid from Pawtucket called up to make an emergency start.  I mean, fine, he couldn’t go on like that forever and every pitcher has a bad day, but I think I would’ve been much happier if he’d had his bad day not during the second game a four-game series with the Rays, because now we’ve lost two and Toronto’s jumped out in front.  So we’re officially on a losing streak and in second place.  Wonderful.

One thing’s for sure.  When I envisioned what a Masterson bad day would look like, I wasn’t really seeing back-to-back home runs, the first of which was a grand slam.  That was definitely not part of the plan.  Masterson pitched six, gave up six runs on six hits, walked three, struck out six, and relinquished those two home runs in the fifth inning.  Evan Longoria hit the grand slam, followed by Carlos Pena’s solo shot.  Both were hit with two outs.  As we know, Masterson wouldn’t last much longer.  But there were some high points.  Because the bullpen’s been working overtime lately, we needed Masterson to go deep.  Because Masterson is so young, deep for him is somewhere around five or six innings.  So he did that.  He did his job.  It wasn’t his best work, not by any means, but he did his job.  And if we have to take this loss because it was important for the bullpen to get that extra rest, so be it.  In the long run I think it’ll be worth it.  I’d rather not have any more pitchers put on the DL with arm fatigue so early in the season, and if that means we have to take a loss while our starter is left in the game a little longer than usual, ultimately that has to be fine with me.  And it’ll be good for his endurance too, because eventually six innings will become the norm for him.  Delcarmen and Ramirez aced.  Still 0.00 ERAs for both of them.  That’s something I hope will last.

Unfortunately the offense didn’t do much.  We ended up losing by a score of 6-2.  In the third, Jason Bay walked with the bases loaded to bring Pedroia home, so that’s scored as an RBI, and the man still leads the American League in walks.  How about that? Even when he doesn’t get a hit, he still manages to plate somebody.  And the other RBI goes to Drew.  Pedroia and Youk both had great nights, going three for five and two for three with a walk, respectively.  Youk’s still batting above .400.  It’s very early in the season, but I suspect he and Pedroia will battle it out for MVP again this year.  Lugo got a hit, which I didn’t believe until I saw a replay of it later.  We did out-hit the Rays, though, 9-7.  In theory, the team with the most hits should win, the key phrase there being “in theory.” The Twins out-hit us even though we beat them, 7-3, so technically I can’t complain about that.  But still.  It would’ve been nice if more of those hits came with runners in scoring position.

So we’ve dropped the first two to Tampa Bay.  The key at this point is to not get swept.  I never thought I’d say this, but I’m so thankful that it’s Wakefield on the mound tonight.  He always does well at the Trop.  Maybe he can put a lid on this before it gets out of hand.

In other news, the Bruins finished off the Hurricanes in Game One of Round Two the same way they finished off the Canadiens in Game Four of Round One: by a score of 4-1.  Timmy Thomas, folks.  Timmy Thomas is winning the Vezina Trophy this year, and last night he showed why.  There were some beautiful saves and definitely some beautiful goals.  Great physical hockey.  I have to admit, I was a little worried about the fact that we hadn’t seen action on the ice in quite some time, and you never know how a long rest period is going to affect you, but by the second period we were all good.  And it was nice to see Sergei Samsonov again, even if he was playing for Carolina.  Actually, he and Axelsson are the only players involved in this series who were also present in the 1999 Bruins-Hurricans Stanley Cup quarterfinal, except that back then Samsonov was also wearing black and gold.  Also, congratulations to Zdeno Chara on becoming a father and to Claude Julien on becoming a finalist for the Jack Adams Award.  But the point is we buried them and we have good momentum going into Game Two, which is at home on Sunday at 7:30PM.

The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy

Read Full Post »

With our win last night, our streak reaches eleven games, our longest since the twelve-gamer from June 16 to June 29 in 2006.  Hopefully we’ll be able to overtake that in more ways than one; make this streak even longer and, at the very least, make the playoffs this year, something that didn’t happen three years ago.  That was just a bad second half.  I love baseball just as much as anybody, but that was ugly.  I’m telling you, you just couldn’t wait for that to be over.

Last night was a good game.  It was a pitchers’ duel, that’s for sure.  At least for a while.  And this is Wakefield’s third quality start.  I don’t know how it happens, but he seems to be getting better with age.  Every outing for the last three he’s become more consistent.  There’s a trend I’d love to see continue.  He one-hit the Tribe for seven shutout innings with four walks and five K’s.  His ERA is 1.86.  I can’t remember the last time I saw the name “Tim Wakefield” associated with an ERA under 2.00.  I mean he’s fourth in the American League.  And if he keeps pitching like this the only place it has to go is down.  I mean it just keeps dropping.  It’s remarkable.  Which makes it that much more unfortunate that he didn’t get the win.

Delcarmen pitched a perfect eight and Papelbon a not-so-perfect ninth.  A run on three hits and two K’s will raise his ERA to 1.93.  His last few outings haven’t been great.  You might say it’s only one run, but think about that for a second.  Papelbon’s our closer.  If this game had been tied, that one run would’ve been a walkoff for Cleveland.  You can’t have that from your closer, even if you can afford it.  I don’t think this will last, though.  Papelbon has a rough patch or two every season and then it’s smooth sailing.  Delcarmen got the win, and Paps picked up another save.

As far as the offense goes, it was a one-man show.  Jason Bay, folks.  Jason Bay.  A ninth-inning rocket of a home run off Kerry Wood.  One out, two on, and then three in.  And that was the ballgame.  The final score was 3-1.  Bay actually had a great night, finishing at three for four, and every hit was hit hard.  Let’s go through his numbers, shall we? .344 average, .705 slugging percentage, five home runs, nineteen RBIs, twenty walks.  That is insane.  I mean, yes, that is just insane.  Ortiz finished at two for four, and those were the only two multi-hit performances of the game.  In fact, only three other guys got hits at all: Lowell, Bailey, and Green.  That was it.  So in the interest of sportsmanship I’ll tip my hat to Cliff Lee on holding us at bay.  Almost.  Wow, the puns just keep coming and coming.

Ellsbury did not get a hit and actually struck out three times, but he did make an absolutely spectacular catch in the sixth on the run.  Very tough play, but if anyone can do it, he can.

Julio Lugo is back in action for us.  And I’m glad he’s back, because you never want any of your guys to be injured.  But that’s pretty much the only reason why I’m glad he’s back.  Nick Green is great.  Jed Lowrie, once he gets out of his slump, will be great.  I just hope Lugo has it in him to be great.  Mike Dee, our Chief Operating Officer, is leaving to become the CEO of the Miami Dolphins.  I personally don’t understand why anyone would want to make a move like that, but hey.  Red Sox Nation and I thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, and service to our team.  You’ll be missed.  I just hope we have someone waiting in the wings who’s good.  Curt Smith of the Norwich Bulletin called the new Yankee Stadium “The House that Greed Built.” Brilliant.  I love it.

In other news, Timmy Thomas is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy along with the Wild’s Niklas Backstrom and the Blue Jackets’ Steve Mason.  They’re all worthy opponents.  Backstrom basically carried the Wild on his back for most of the season, and you could argue that Mason is the only reason why the Blue Jackets are even in the playoffs at all.  But Timmy Thomas is the best goalie in the entire National Hockey League.  So in the interest of sportsmanship I tip my hat, but it’s a lock.

So onward and forward we go.  If we win tonight we tie our longest winning streak in three years, but I think we have it in us to extend it much longer than that.  Maybe break the all-time record? We’ll see.  One game at a time; Penny at Reyes first.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »