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Posts Tagged ‘Vicente Padilla’

Ugh.  Another crushing loss.  You know it’s bad when you go home and can’t seem to dig yourself out of your slump and instead start a new losing streak.  As if we haven’t had the indication that it’s bad from the fact that it’s September and we’re in last place.

Dice-K did not do well.  As in, he really, really, really did not do well.  He gave up five runs on five hits while walking one and striking out two, and he only lasted one and one-third innings.

He issued his walk in the first but otherwise sailed right through it.  All five of his runs were scored in the second.  It was a complete transformation from good to bad that occurred immediately.  His first pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot, and his third pitch of the inning was hit for a single.  Then he hit a batter and gave up a double that scored one and a single that scored two.  The next runner that would score stole second, moved to third on Lavarnway’s throwing error, and came home on a sac fly.  Dice-K then allowed another single before being replaced by Aceves.

Aceves finished the second and got through the third and fourth in solid fashion.  Miller breezed through the fifth, and Melancon breezed through the sixth and seventh.

Meanwhile, the hitters were completely quiet.  They did nothing.  And they squandered the few opportunities that they did manage to create.  We went down in order in the first and third, but Lavarnway walked in the second, Ellsbury singled and Ross got hit in the fourth, and we didn’t convert those.  We finally did manage to get on the board in the fifth.  Lavarnway walked to lead it off, Aviles singled, Lavarnway scored on a single by Podsednik, Iglesias popped out and Podsednik got doubled off at first, and then Aviles scored on a single by Ciriaco.

It turns out that those two runs would be our only ones of the game.  That was the difference between us and the Jays last night.  Their one bad inning yielded two runs; our one bad inning yielded five and we weren’t even done.

Padilla came on for the eighth and allowed three straight singles, which brought in another run.  And Bailey came on for the ninth and gave up a single, a walk, and a three-run home run.  So after all the hype that Dice-K would bring an end to our slump and after all the rain delays, which lasted a grand total of 123 minutes, the final score, therefore, was 9-2.

Be mindful of this, folks: if Bobby V. chooses to shut Dice-K down for the remainder of the season, this may very well have been the last appearance he will make for us.  He’ll be a free agent this offseason, and something tells me that the brass may decide go to in a new direction.

ESPN Boston

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Finally, we snap our losing streak.  We almost didn’t.  It’s fitting that, if we’re going to win, we barely eke it out.  Honestly I’m embarrassed to say that I almost forgot what winning felt like.  I have to say, it feels awesome.  It’s a shame we don’t just do it more often.

For his part, Lester had a decent start.  Technically it was a quality start; in reality it could have been much better.  He gave up three runs on nine hits over six innings while walking two and striking out four.  So the fact that he only gave up three runs is good; the fact that he gave up nine hits and only pitched six innings is obviously not great.  A pitcher who allows nine hits should feel really lucky that he managed to limit the damage to three runs and reach the six-inning mark.

Of course it didn’t help that most of his runs were scored via the long ball, and when I say most I mean two of three.  His fifth pitch of the game was hit for a single in the first; the runner then stole second on a strikeout, moved to third on a groundout, and then scored on another single.  Lester then got through the second but gave up two consecutive solo shots to open the third.  Three pitches, two solo shots; the first one was hit on the first pitch of the at-bat and the second on the second.  The sixth was his only one-two-three inning.

Breslow and Tazawa combined to pitch the seventh, Padilla pitched the eighth, and Bailey pitched the ninth.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.

In the end, Lester picked up the win; Breslow, Tazawa, and Padilla each got holds; and Bailey got the save.  Lester may have allowed three runs, but when Breslow took the ball in the seventh, Lester had already pitched the bottom of the sixth with a one-run lead.

We really procrastinated.  It was almost like we had to force ourselves to just win already.  Between the singles and doubles we sprinkled across the game’s first five and last three innings (except the third and the eighth, when we went down in order), we had our fair share of opportunities to get on the board and to pad our lead, but this year, since when has that stopped us before? So we didn’t score until the sixth.  Which was when we scored all of our runs.  So we didn’t score before, and we didn’t score after; we just crammed all four of them in there at once like we wanted to get it over with.  But it was a really fantastic inning.  It made you think of all those games we’ve been known to play in the past and hopefully in the future where multiple innings during multiple games are like that.

Pedroia and Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles, and then Ross strode to the plate and went yard on the first pitch he saw, a seventy-nine mile-per-hour curveball that he sent all the way out to left field.  It was awesome.  He read the ball from the minute it left the pitcher’s hand and had its number all the way through, and he just powered it out of the park.  And with one swing of the bat, we tied the game at three.  Loney and Salty provided back-to-back flyouts, and then Lavarnway, wanting to get in on the action, powered our way to victory with a solo shot on his second pitch.  Both pitches he saw in that at-bat were eighty-nine mile-per-hour fastballs.  The first was a two-seam that he took for a ball; the second was a four-seam that also ended up in left field.

And that’s the story of how we stopped our losing streak at seven and our road losing streak at eight using pure power.  Yeah.  It feels good.  It feels really good.

AP Photo

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So…I mean…what? Did that actually happen? I mean, I saw it with my own eyes, myself, in real-time, and I still can not believe that it actually happened.  As it was happening, I couldn’t believe that it was happening.  It was the most absurd, embarrassing, humiliating, pathetic display of an excuse for baseball that I have seen in recent memory.  And given the season we’ve had, that says a ton.  I can’t believe it.  I really just can’t.  I don’t even want to talk about it, because I’m fully conscious of how incredibly awful and horrible and terrible and truly, extremely, exceptionally abysmal it was, and yet at the same time I just can’t believe it.

I’ll start with the offense, since unfortunately that provides the least to report.  Why couldn’t it have been a double slugfest so that at least we would have had something to show for the fact that we came to play?

We scored our first run in the fourth, when Salty hit a solo shot on his fourth pitch on a 1-2 count.  The first was a curveball, the second was a sinker, and then he got two cutters.  Both were around ninety miles per hour.  He fouled off the first one and then lit into the second one, pulverizing it into a home run out to right field.  We didn’t score again until the seventh, when with one out Ciriaco singled and Iglesias got hit; both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, and Ciriaco scored on a groundout by Gomez.

In the interest of painting the big picture, I’ll tell you what we did in all of the other innings: nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  We started the game with two back-to-back singles in the first, which amounted to nothing.  We hit two singles again in the second and in the sixth, which amounted to nothing.  We singled and walked in the eighth, which amounted to nothing.  And we went down in order in the third and the fifth and the ninth.

But our lack of offense was honestly the least of our problems yesterday, which can be summarized in one word: pitching.  Our pitching delivered a literally unspeakably horrifying performance.  Seriously, it was terrifying beyond words.  Our pitchers, who, the last time I checked, were indeed pitching in the Major Leagues, looked like a bunch of minor leaguers considering themselves lucky to throw pitches during batting practice.  That’s what it looked like.  It looked like the Oakland A’s were having themselves a fun and fruitful batting practice before an actual Major League game.  Honestly, I sincerely hope that our pitchers just lost the memo that said that it was actually a Major League game and not batting practice, because if that wasn’t the case, then the only other explanation for the painful and devastating humiliation we suffered last night would be that our pitchers are really just that bad.  And that’s a level of badness that, even with the kind of season we’ve been having, I really would never have actually thought we’d reach.

We sent out seven pitchers, so there goes the day off they had as a result of Lester’s complete game.  Only one of them did not allow any runs.  And only one of the six pitchers that did allow runs allowed only one run, and only one of the six pitchers that did allow runs did not allow a home run.

We’ll start with Cook, since he was the first one.  He took the loss, although technically the bullpen in its entirety deserved it more since collectively they gave up more than twice the amount of runs that he gave up.  He went one-two-three in the first, which at the time didn’t even provide that much false hope because it was easily observable that all three outs were hit well; still, even so, we could never have imagined at the conclusion of that inning the kind of implosion and devolution that was about to ensue.  He gave up a single to start the second and then allowed three straight scoring plays: an RBI double, an RBI single, and a two-run home run.  And then he ended the inning with three straight outs.  Cook began the third with a flyout and then allowed a double to Josh Reddick of all people.  He got another flyout and then gave up an RBI double which scored Reddick with a little help from a deflection by Iglesias, and then he gave up an RBI single.

That was when he was replaced by Tazawa, the one pitcher who didn’t allow any runs.  Tazawa got the final out of the third and pitched a beautiful one-two-three fourth.  Based on that performance alone as compared with what everyone else had to show for themselves, Tazawa should have been allowed not only to stay in the game but to pitch the entire game.  But no.  Aceves came on for the fifth; with two out, he hit a batter and then gave up a home run that plated two.  Bard came on for the sixth and gave up a solo shot with one out; he then gave up a single but managed to get out of the inning, so he’s the one, out of the pitchers who gave up runs, who gave up only one run.

Breslow came on for the seventh; he got Reddick to pop out but then gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases.  A fielding error by Gomez allowed a run to score by allowing a runner to reach on a force attempt.  And then Breslow allowed a single that plated two.  He was then replaced by Melancon, who allowed a double that plated one.  He then walked Coco Crisp of all people and then gave up an RBI single followed by one of the worst indignities a pitcher could ever suffer, a scoring play so devastating and complete that it broadcasts to the world not only the mistake that a pitcher made on that one pitch that started the scoring play but also all the mistakes that led to its being possible at all, a play so rare and elusive that we can only hope and dream for it when we need it most because it never really seems to come our way at the right time, a play so devastating that it causes nothing but shame and anger on the part of the pitcher who facilitated it: the grand slam.  Hit by – you guessed it – Reddick.

And then Padilla came on for the eighth; he opened the inning with a popout but then gave up a double followed by a home run.

All told, our pitching staff gave up only two walks but nineteen hits last night, five of which were doubles and five of which were home runs.  Cook gave up six runs, Tazawa gave up no runs, Aceves gave up two runs, Bard gave up one run, Breslow gave up five runs, Melancon gave up four runs, and Padilla gave up two runs.  So Cook gave up six runs, and the bullpen collectively gave up fourteen.

You read right.  That makes the final score a humiliating, embarrassing, painful, devastating, abysmal, horrible, terrible, unspeakable, unbelievable 20-2.  A fitting end for a month we finish with a record of nine and twenty-one.  And that’s all I have to say about it.

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I don’t know how Dice-K does it.  Most of the time he is just awful.  And then all of a sudden he executes a start like this that’s just awesome, and it makes you think that maybe you shouldn’t write him off juts yet.  Basically it’s so agonizing that he can’t just do this on a regular basis, and you can’t help thinking about what could possibly have gone wrong between Japan and where he is right now.

He pitched seven innings and gave up one run, which wasn’t even earned, on five hits while walking two and striking out six.  He threw 101 pitches, seventy-one of which were strikes, and by his standards that’s extremely efficient.  The lone run scored in the first; he started the game by allowing the first of his walks, which eventually turned into a run on a sac fly thanks en route to a missed catch by Pedroia, which allowed the runner to advance.

Dice-K had plenty of good relief behind him to keep the pitching momentum going.  Mortensen and Padilla combined for the eighth, and Bailey handled the ninth.  I guess this is him giving us a glimpse of what we should expect next season, when we hope he’ll be healthy at the start of it.

Although we only outhit the Royals by one, we outscored them by four.  Ellsbury single-handedly answered their run in the bottom of the first with a solo shot on his fourth pitch, the fourth straight four-seam he saw in that at-bat.  All four pitches were the exact same speed, too: ninety-two miles per hour.  He took the first two for balls, fouled the third, and went yard to right on the last.  And with Ellsbury’s second home run of the year, the game was tied at one.

But not for long.  We took the lead in the third and never looked back.  Podsednik and Pedroia hit back-to-back singles, and Ross singled them both in.  Ellsbury and Ross hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth that scored one, and Loney followed it with a second consecutive scoring play, a single that plated Ross.

And that’s a wrap! Literally nobody in the last four spots of the order produced a hit, a run, or an RBI.  Only one, Gomez, managed to reach base all night, and that was because he walked.  Meanwhile, three of the top five, Podsednik, Ellsbury, and Ross, went two for four.  Ross bounced both of his hits off the Monster, and his double just barely missed making it into the seats for a home run.  And with this win, Dice-K becomes one of only four Japanese pitchers to win fifty games.  Not bad for someone who hasn’t seen Major League action in about two months.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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What a game.  That was a nailbiter for sure.  Down to the wire, it really could have gone either way.  I’m serious.  Either team could have easily won, and either team could have easily lost.  It was one of those games where you could tell that it was going to be decided by something small or by something big.  And until it was decided all you could do was keep the faith and believe that somehow we would come out on top.

It started with poor pitching on both sides.  Morales was the culprit for us in a big way.  He was fine in the first.  And he was fine in the second.  But he completely and totally imploded in the third and didn’t even make it out of the inning.  He gave up a single, a fielder’s choice, another single followed by a steal, an RBI single, a strikeout, a walk to load the bases, an RBI walk since that’s really what it was, and an unearned run thanks to an error by Ciriaco.  He gave up almost every kind of run imaginable in that first inning, including the more humiliating varieties.

Then Mortensen got up there and allowed a whole heap of inherited runners to score, plus several of his own.  He gave up an RBI walk of his own followed by three consecutive RBI singles.

So just so we’re completely aware of the dire situation, I will point out that that’s eight runs.  We gave up eight runs in a single inning.  We usually don’t even score eight runs in a single game.  Or, for that matter, in multiple games put together.  And our pitching staff just dropped eight runs like it was their job.  Honestly our pitching’s been so sub-par this season that sometimes it looks like it actually is.

At that point Mortensen was relieved by Tazawa, who ended the inning and pitched the fourth without incident.  Melancon pitched the fifth and sixth.  Bailey gave up two consecutive singles and an RBI single two outs later, after which he was relieved by Padilla, who finished the inning and pitched through the eighth.

Fortunately, our hitters were actually prepared to answer.  And it was glorious to watch the whole thing unfold.  Because, sure, they scored eight runs in a single inning, and sure, that inning was early on in the contest, but we were clearly unfazed by it.  That plus the fact that the pitcher we were facing was, as I said, not that much better than Morales.  These things blended together to create a fantastic dish of cold, hard revenge every single time they’d score a run.  We’d just come roaring back.

We actually scored first; Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by Gonzalez in the first.  And we scored five runs in the second.  Gomez doubled and scored on a single by Podsednik, Ciriaco singled, Ellsbury singled in Podsednik, and then Pedroia strode to the plate and delivered an absolute wallop of a swing that seemed to uncork months and months of frustration.  He let loose, and the ball sailed out toward the Monster.  And it was fantastic because it brought in three runs in one swing of the bat; that’s a matter of seconds.  It was a game-changer.

Then the Angels’ monster inning happened, and neither team scored again until the fifth, when Pedroia singled and scored on a single by Ross.  Not wanting to feel left out of the power action, Aviles went yard toward the Monster as well.  One at-bat later, Ciriaco doubled and scored on a double by Ellsbury.  This gave us a one-run lead at the time, which we promptly lost due to Bailey’s run.  That tied things up at nine, and that’s exactly where it stayed until the eighth.  We hit four straight singles in the eighth, the latter two of which plated runs.

Except that the Angels answered us, too.  Aceves came out for the ninth and gave up a solo shot and two RBI singles to give the Angels a one-run lead, and Ross’s mistake in the field wasn’t helpful.  And suddenly the situation was reversed.  Momentum was no longer on our side.  It’s been so hard to come by, and naturally when you need it most it tends to disappear.  That’s the story of our entire season, I guess.  It was all that any one of us could take, and yet we couldn’t look away because we believe as long as there’s even the tiniest shred of hope that we could obtain the W, we knew we were still in it.  We were in it to the very, very last, all right.

Except that that solo shot wasn’t a home run at all.  It didn’t even go over the Monster, and anyone watching could have seen it, but for some reason nobody realized or challenged it.  And if it had been challenged and reviewed and possibly reversed, who knows what the outcome of the game would have been then?

But then Ross led off the ninth with a solo shot out toward the Monster.  This was unbelievable.  We finally seemed to have an answer for everything, and the suspense was almost intolerable.  We showed that we have resilience.  We showed that we have grit and that we can come back at the drop of a hat.  Now we just needed to show that we could seal the deal and walk away with the win; we needed to score a run or two that the Angels didn’t have an answer for, because we were neck-and-neck and needed to put ourselves on top.

But the team that had the last word wasn’t us.  Aceves allowed a solo shot to lead off the tenth followed by a single and was then replaced by Breslow, who gave up an RBI double for the winning run.

The final score was 14-13.  Now, I’ve seen disappointing losses this year.  I mean, every loss is disappointing, but there have been some real backbreakers.  And this one is up there.  To come back every single time except the last, to respond to everything they did at the plate run by run, to have had our chance to win throughout the whole game and then come up short by just one run in extra innings is definitely up there.  It was exhausting, it was painful, and above all it was infuriatingly disappointing.  So you can blame the pitchers because thirteen runs should have been much, much more than enough to win with, or you can blame the hitters for not having been able to score that fourteenth or even fifteenth run at the end of it all.  Whoever you blame, the outcome won’t change.  We should have been the ones to have had that last word.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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Before we get into the action, I want to say that, as usual, the brass did an outstanding and extremely classy job during last night’s pregame ceremony.  We honored the legendary Johnny Pesky and lifted our spirits as one Nation as we remembered his.  And the commemoration will continue throughout the season as the players wear a black patch on their jerseys bearing Number Six.  In fact, last night, everyone, including the outfield grass, bore Number Six.  Well done.  As I said, we miss you, Johnny Pesky, and we salute you.

Same old, same old.  Did we play mediocre baseball? Yes.  Did it show in the outcome? Yes.  Ergo, did we win? No.

Cook took the loss and gave up five runs, four earned, on eleven runs over five innings.  He also walked one and struck out four.  Even that unearned run was technically his fault, because he was the one who made the throwing error to put the runner in scoring position so he could score on a single in the third.  And then in the fourth he gave up three straight singles that resulted in one run, and the fourth straight single after that resulted in another.  And then he gave up a two-run home run in the fifth.

It’s no wonder that Mortensen came out in the sixth.  So let it be known that the relief corps was not the problem, because the Angels were able to win just with the runs they scored off of Cook.  Mortensen pitched the sixth and seventh, Padilla pitched the eighth, and Aceves pitched the ninth.

But, as is too often the case, the hitters did not provide adequate support.  We could go back and forth as we always do about the fact that the pitcher shouldn’t allow so many runs as to have to lose the game due to a lack of run support and that the hitters can’t just put all the responsibility on the pitcher to get the job done, but the bottom line is that we lost no matter how you look at it.

Anyway, we didn’t even score at all until the sixth inning, when Ross walked with two out and Salty went deep on a fastball on a 1-2 count.  It was the fourth pitch of the at-bat, and he let it loose to right field.  In the end it had no chance of staying in the park; he just lofted it right out of there.  Podsednik doubled in the seventh and scored on a wild pitch.  And that was it.  It wasn’t enough.  We lost, 5-3.  There’s nothing more to it.  So much for Randy Niemann replacing Bob McClure as pitching coach.  There are no easy fixes for a season-long slump.

Johnny Pesky

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That was a close one.  Both the game and the series, I mean, in the sense that we narrowly and barely avoided the sweep.  I really did not want to be swept.  I mean, who does? But especially after that loss on Saturday night, I really, really didn’t want to lose today and be swept.  So it’s a good thing that we weren’t.  And it was pretty nice to win by the same final score that they won by on Saturday, as a taste of their own medicine, so to speak.

Morales got the nod today and pitched really well.  His six innings were solid, and he gave up one run on only three hits while walking three and striking out four.  He picked up the win after throwing 106 pitches, sixty-three of which were strikes.

He shut out the Twins for the first four frames.  In the fifth, Morales gave up a walk, and the runner advanced to second on a stolen base, third on a groundout, and home on a sac fly.  Morales ended his fantastic night on an appropriate note with a one-two-three sixth.

Melancon rolled up the seventh and most of the eighth; Breslow got the last out.

Meanwhile, we scored first in the third.  Aviles singled, Ellsbury doubled, and Aviles scored on a groundout by Crawford.  Then Pedroia singled, and Gonzalez singled Ellsbury in.  Unfortunately, two runs was the extent of that rally.  Fortunately, while we did go down in order in the fourth, it was not our last rally of the night.  We scored another two runs in the fifth; Crawford singled, and then with two outs Gonzalez let one rip to the Monster for a two-run shot, doubling our run total with one swing of the bat.  I’m telling you, we’ve really been putting the Monster through its paces, but that’s exactly what you want to see.  It was the fourth pitch of the at-bat; all four pitches were two-seam fastballs at almost exactly the same speed.  He took the first for a ball and the next two for strikes, but clearly he got all of the fourth.

We didn’t score in the sixth.  Crawford led off the seventh with a single and scored on a single by Ross.  And we scored our sixth and final run in the eighth; Kalish doubled and scored on a sac fly by Ellsbury.

And now for the top of the ninth.  The ninth inning was again a problem.  At the time the score was 6-1.  But Padilla came on and promptly relinquished a solo shot; that made it 6-2.  He then issued a five-pitch walk followed by another home run, which made the score what it was in the end.  And then Aceves, ironically enough, sent down all three batters he faced.  So, ironically, perhaps if he’d been the one to come out first, the inning would have proceeded without incident.  So if we hadn’t scored enough runs throughout the rest of the game, we actually would have been in the exact same position we were in on Saturday night.  And that’s not good at all.  So we can celebrate and be happy that we staved off the sweep and all, but let us not overlook the fact that we could just as easily have lost.  That’s never a good thing to be able to say about a win.

The final score, as I said, was 6-4.  We posted fourteen hits to their six.  Only three of ours were for extra bases, but it was enough.  It’s always good to have a mix of extra-base hits and small ball.  We had five multi-hit games; Middlebrooks and Ross went two for four, Aviles and Gonzalez went two for three, and Crawford celebrated his birthday with a three-for-five performance as well as a spectacular jumping catch in the second.  And look for Morales to stay in the rotation.  He’s earned his spot and was certainly one of the highlights of the win yesterday.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you don’t get swept.

AP Photo

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