Posts Tagged ‘Victor Martinez’

We celebrated another anniversary this week, also epic, also on a Wednesday.  Six years ago this past Wednesday, we won Game Four of the 2004 World Series.  We swept the Cardinals right out of St. Louis, broke the Curse of the Bambino, vindicated one Nation under Sox, and ushered in a new era of dominance by Boston baseball.  The ALCS victory was the greatest comeback in sports history, but the World Series was the greatest win in sports history, period.  Never gets tired, never gets old, and never gets forgotten.  I still get chills when I think about Foulke to Mientkiewicz.

Meanwhile, we have a problem.  It’s a huge problem.  Congratulations to John Farrell, the new manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.  He’ll be missed.  He’ll be sorely missed.  That’s our problem.  Let’s temporarily forget about the fact that Jays pitching is known to give us trouble in September.  More importantly and urgently, we now need a new pitching coach.  Let’s not kid ourselves; Farrell was awesome.  He was great.  He was one of the best pitching coaches you could possibly have asked for.  He knew the staff inside-out, and he’d worked previously with V-Mart.

We’re looking inside and outside.  So far, we’ve interviewed former A’s pitching coach Curt Young.  We’re going to interview Ralph Truel, our minor league pitching coordinator, and Major League advance scout Mike Cather this week.  We also might be looking at Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson, who worked with Tito when he was in Oakland.  At this point, whether the guy comes from the outside or the inside is not the issue.  The guy just has to be good.  Only two of our starters are home-grown, so it’s not like Truel would have that much of an edge over the other three.  The guy also has to be hired as soon as possible so he can start, because he’s got a lot of work to do.

The front office will also be busy, and not just because the stove is about to get hot.  A new agreement between the players’ union and the owners has shortened the free agent exclusivity period from fifteen to five days after the conclusion of the World Series.  That moves up the deadline for teams to offer arbitration by about a week, and so has the deadline for players to accept.  The tender deadline has moved up by at least a week.  I have faith that Theo is totally on top of his game.  I’m just saying that, with our own, we’re going to have to act fast.  Five days.  That’s, like, no time at all.  So we need to get moving.  We’re also going to have to be very shrewd in managing our payroll so it doesn’t get out of hand.

Congratulations to Wakefield, who won the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award for his community service.  He does it all, from local hospitals to the Jimmy Fund to Wakefield’s Warriors, where he invites children from the Franciscan Hospital and the Jimmy Fund to Tuesday home games to meet him and watch batting practice.  If you ask me, he’s been due for a long time now.  This was his eighth nomination.  But, ultimately, he gets exactly what he deserves.  Nobody deserves that award more than he does because, not only does he do a lot in the community, he does all of it quietly and without any thought about recognition for it.

Peter Gammons is convinced it’s going to be Carl Crawford, not Jayson Werth.  Papi wants an extension rather than just an option pick-up; no surprise there.

Good news: ticket prices will basically stay the same for 2011.  Bad news: it doesn’t matter much since most of us don’t purchase our tickets at face value anyway.

Other news: we shut out the Leafs on Thursday, two-zip.  Thomas made twenty saves.  Then we shut out the Sens yesterday, four-zip.  Krejci had a goal and an assist, and Thomas made twenty-nine saves.  Love it.  And the Pats beat the Chargers with the same final score we used to beat the Ravens: 23-20.  It was close, but it was still a win.  We’ve got the Vikings today.

AP Photo

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It’ll be one week tomorrow since our elimination from the playoffs, and it already feels like forever since baseball season.  That’s a bad sign.  If it feels like forever after a week, I don’t want to think about how it’s going to feel after a month, or two, or six.

The Twins failed us, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Let’s look back on our season, shall we? We finished second in the Majors in runs scored with 818, sixth in hits with 1,511, first in doubles with 358, second in homers with 211, first in total bases with 2,546, second in RBIs with 782, sixth in batting average with .268, third in on-base percentage with .339, and second in slugging percentage with .451.

When you look at it like that, our offense was awesome.  Before the season, everyone was worried about where the home runs were going to come from.  Well, they came.  They came in droves compared to the offensive ineptitude everyone was ready to heap onto us.   Beltre was a big part of that, and if you ask me he should be in the discussion for AL MVP.  Tito should be Manager of the Year.  Done.  If he doesn’t get Manager of the Year, something is fundamentally wrong.

Let’s do pitching.  We were tenth in the Majors in wins with eighty-nine, seventh in saves with forty-four, second in innings pitched with exactly 1,457, ninth in strikeouts with 1,207, and ninth in opponent’s batting average with .253.  Unfortunately, our ERA, runs, earned runs, and walks were off the charts.  If we got into the playoffs it would have been because of about half the offense and half the staff, namely Lester and Buchholz.  We basically spent the entire year playing with and relying on only half our team.  Half the staff was trying to carry all of it, and half the order was trying to carry all of it.  The bullpen was a mess.

And finally, fielding.  We were second in the Majors in putouts with 4,371.  The rest of our fielding stats were essentially awful.  Beltre was as bad in the field as he was good at the plate, and he wasn’t the only one.

All of that begs the tough question that encompasses every GM’s universe come the offseason: what do we do to improve? We’re in a very difficult position.  After a season finish like ours, the first impulse is to be convinced that what we need is some sort of incredibly massive overhaul.  But that’s not necessarily the case, and we should be wary of doing anything rash.  We know from that brief but glorious period right before the All-Star Game that Theo’s run prevention theory works.  We were well on our way to locking the division before the injuries hit.  So we can’t write off that approach so fast, especially since we obviously did end up having good offensive production.  Aside from our obvious needs, it’s hard to gauge what’s needed because we never actually got to see the 2010 team in full force for any indicative period of time.  So I actually don’t think that there are too many glaring holes that need patching up this winter.

One glaring hole we do have is the bullpen.  Paps was decidedly subpar, and so were most of our other relievers.  We need a middle reliever, and our specialist situation is not clear-cut at the moment.  We need to fix that.

We need to re-sign V-Mart.  That is absolutely non-negotiable.  He works very well with the staff, he has improved his arm, and he hits.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a catcher who hits.  And he hits from both sides of the plate.  And he destroys southpaws.  And he plays first base.  V-Mart will be worth every penny the brass offers.  The only potential problem there is years.  V-Mart wants a long contract, and we don’t like offering long contracts because they damage our flexibility.  But I still say he’s integral.

We need to retain Big Papi.  We’ve got an option on him, and as usual there’s no comment as to whether that’s going to be exercised.  All I know is that Papi was an absolute force this year.  When he gets going, it’s hard to stop him, and he’s still got it.  Not to mention what he does for the team off the field, which is also important.  So between his potent bat and his potent personality, he does great things for this team, and I think it would be a mistake not to bring him back.

Beltre is also a free agent.  This is a tricky one.  Nobody expected him to be as good as he was this year, so he’s going to have decisions to make this winter.  There is absolutely no way on this planet that he will exercise his option.  No way.  It’s not happening.  Beltre is going to want some serious coin, perhaps more than we’ll want to offer.  We’re going to have to be ready if that’s how it comes to pass.  Suppose Beltre signs with someone else.  Presumably, Youk will be healthy next year, so we’ll have his bat back to take the place of Beltre’s, and we wait for the other Adrian, Adrian Gonzalez, to become a free agent, we sign him, and we move Youk back to third.  Obviously that’s easier said than done, but it’s a viable option and one that the organization has been thinking about.  Do I think Beltre would be worth the kind of financial commitment he’s probably looking for? That depends on how much we’re talking.  He’s obviously a beast.  He’s a great hitter, presumably he’ll eventually be a great fielder as he gets more accustomed to Fenway, and he’s durable, which we learned the hard way this year.  He’s so durable that, not only did he stay healthy for the whole year, but he took out others for the season.

Lastly, there’s the subtle yet present question of Jason Varitek.  Tek will be back next year in a backup role.  He has embraced his demotion as a way to help the team in a different way, and he’s happy with that.  Everyone needs a backup catcher, and he’s probably the best backup catcher you could possibly find.  He’s also a class act; it takes a real man to accept a backup job with a team you love instead of signing for more money with another team that would probably make you a starter.  Tek has never played baseball for anyone else, and I suspect he wants to keep it that way.

No matter what happens, I think next year will be vastly different from this year, and not only because we’ll be healthy next year.  That’s definitely one reason; Pedroia had his surgery when he did so he would be ready to begin his offseason regimen on time. Everyone is committed to making 2011 a turnaround.  If you ask me, I think we’re going to have a World Series coming our way.  Also because our bench and farm are now one of the best in baseball since they all became starters this year and got regular playing time for a good portion of the season.  And new guys like Lackey will be fully acclimated, and we’ll get to see them really live up to their potential.  So I’m psyched.

In other news, the Pats walked all over the Dolphins last weekend, beating them bad by a score of 41-14.  And hockey season has officially begun.  We kicked it off in Prague with the Coyotes.  We dropped the first game, 5-2, but came roaring back in the second, 3-0.  Tyler Seguin scored his first NHL goal, and it was Thomas with the shutout.  Then we’re returning to the United States to take on the Devils.  This is going to be a great season for us.  We’re loaded with young talent, and I think we’re going to go places.

Sports of Boston

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We knew it was coming: the last game of the 2010 season and the start of a long.  It’s been one interesting year; we started off with a horrendous April, and just when we were well on our way to the top, the injuries struck us right back down.  It’s crushing.  That’s the best way I can explain it.  Like a car in a junkyard that’s been crushed into a cube.  and it’s disappointing, and it’s frustrating, and there’s just nothing more to say.  It wasn’t even our fault.  The whole season just begs the huge question of what the team would have been able to do had it been healthy.  I personally think we would’ve gone all the way.  But we’ll never really know, will we.

Ironically but ultimately appropriately, that was probably Lackey’s best start of the year.  He pitched through the seventh inning for the seventh time in his last ten starts and was one out shy of pitching a full eight.  He allowed three runs, only two earned, on six hits while walking two and tying a career high with ten strikeouts, six swinging and four looking.  Strangely enough, you can actually thank Drew for that run.  He dropped a routine fly ball.  But in a manifestation of how completely underrated his defense is, that was the first error he’s made in 183 games.

Lackey threw 118 pitches, eighty-one for strikes.  He threw every single one of his pitches effectively; he commanded all of them, he mixed and matched them, he was aggressive with them, and he really challenged the batters to come and get him.  They couldn’t.  His zone was absolutely full.  So he didn’t have the best or most consistent year, but he certainly finished on a high note, giving us a preview of what we can expect from him next year.  His final record is fourteen and eleven with a 4.40 ERA.

The bats backed Lackey and established themselves early.  It was a thing of beauty.  Drew clobbered a two-run shot in the first, his twenty-second and last of the season.  He hooked a fastball down the middle to right field beyond the bullpen.  Lowrie did the same in the fifth; he clobbered a two-run shot also to right.  Lowrie was getting a steady diet of breaking balls, so he caught one down the middle and sent it out.

We broke it open in the sixth, when we scored three.  Kalish hit an RBI single, Anderson hit a sac fly for a run, and Kalish stole home on a double theft.  We’ve really been running more than usual this weekend.  Lowrie hit his second homer of the day an inning later.  He took a cut fastball inside and sent it around the Pesky Pole, the shortest home run distance in the Major Leagues.

Meanwhile, the bullpen wasn’t having its best day ever.  Hill allowed his inherited runner to score.  Bard received a hold for recording one out.  Paps came on and allowed an unearned run for the second straight day.  There was the unearned run, a hit, a walk, and a strikeout before the season finally ended with us on top, 8-4.  I’m just as unprepared as the next fan to say goodbye to baseball and the team for a whole six months, but I’m glad we ended it on a high note.  I’m glad we won the final season series, kept the Yankees from winning the division, and went out with a bang like we wanted to.

So that’s it.  That’s all for 2010.  We finish in third place with a record of eighty-nine and seventy-three.  For the first time since 2006, we won’t win ninety games.  So we split the season series with the Yankees evenly at nine and nine.  And we have no idea what we’ll look like next year.  Beltre, V-Mart, and Papi, who ironically ended his season with a successful bunt of all things but received a massive standing ovation and a curtain call afterwards, will all be free agents.  Tek received an enormous and very well-deserved standing ovation after almost hitting a home run.  He almost lost it, and we almost lost it.  The captain.  He was there for 2004 and 2007.  Most likely he’ll be back next year, but there’ll be plenty of time to talk about that.  Right now, we can feel crushed and devastated and all those things that show the kind of loyal and dedicated fans that we are.  We can be proud of ourselves for what we’ve accomplished this season despite our vast limitations.  It’s been one interesting ride.  I can’t believe it’s over, but I think we all saw it coming a mile away.  But no matter how much you’re forewarned, you’re never quite ready.  One thing’s for sure: there’s always next year, and next year we’ll be back with a vengeance.

Boston Globe Staff/Yoon S. Byun

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That was terrible.  Nobody deserved a twentieth win more than Lester, but not when Lester pitches like that.  Last night’s loss was nobody’s fault but his own.  The final score was 2-8, and one could possibly argue that the offense had something to do with it because the offense should have scored more runs.  Obviously we want the offense to score as many runs as possible, but for a true ace, and certainly for Lester, there have been times when two runs were more than enough.  So I’m discounting that argument.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we all wanted so badly to see Lester gift-wrap Chicago.  But Lester blew this one himself.  He got rocked.  Hard.

He was nothing short of abysmal.  That’s something you don’t see too often.  He only lasted four innings and in that time managed to give up eight runs on nine hits, including two home runs, one of which was a grand slam, while walking five and striking out five.  He threw ninety-nine pitches over the course of those four innings, only fifty-two of which were strikes.  There have been times where that exact pitch count would get him through entire games.

That grand slam, by the way, was the first he’s allowed in his career.  He left a fastball up.  That’s pretty much what happens when you leave a fastball up.

His command was missing in action.  His pitches were remarkably ineffective; all of his offspeeds, his sinker, slider, changeup, and curveball, were hardly ever thrown for strikes.  His cut fastball was conspicuously missing something.  And he threw a whopping thirty-eight pitches in the fourth.  He threw another eight in the fifth, when he issued a four-pitch walk before he was finally removed.  His release point was fine, but his zone looked barren.  He had good movement, although movement without command is rarely a good thing.

The bullpen, however, was impeccable last night.  They tossed five innings of scoreless, two-hit ball with two walks and two K’s.  Robert Manuel, Robert Coello, Rich Hill, and Michael Bowden.  It was one of those days where the bullpen should have started and the starter shouldn’t even have relieved; he should have just taken the day off and let a pitching machine fill in because it looked like batting practice out there.

Our two runs scored courtesy of V-Mart.  He hit a two-run shot, his twentieth long ball of the season and twelfth from the right, deep to left.  At the time, that shot gave us a 2-1 lead.  Six of Lester’s eight runs were allowed in only two innings: four in the fourth and two in the fifth before he left.  He unraveled in a hurry.

The only other highlight was the serious leather-flashing we had going on.  Anderson’s leaping grab of a line drive in the fourth, Kalish’s catch of a fly literally at the wall in the sixth, and McDonald’s diving catch in the eighth were all defensive gems.

I should mention that the game was delayed in the bottom of the sixth because the neighborhood around US Cellular Field lost power.  I’ve seen some game delays, but I’ve never seen one like that before.  It was both annoying and interesting.

That’s basically all there is to it.  Lester had the chance to become the first twenty-game-winning southpaw since Mel Parnell in 1953, and he blew it.  Nevertheless, nobody will argue the fact that his season was basically the opposite of Beckett’s.  His season was spectacular.  He had his usual rough April, but after that he basically cruised.  He finishes nineteen and nine with a 3.25 ERA and 225 K’s over 208 innings.  And we can only expect even more greatness from him next year.

Today is the first day of October, and tonight we’re starting the final series of the season at home against New York.  Wow.  What an agonizing thing to say.  Either way, the weather isn’t great, so just remember: revenge is a dish best served cold.  Let’s do this.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Last night’s game was nothing special.  Nothing especially groundbreaking occurred.  As usual this season, Beckett was disappointing.  As usual this season, the offense just didn’t have enough.  As usual, the bullpen wasn’t all that great.  There really wasn’t all that much to be happy about.  There was also something about being eliminated from the playoffs the night before.  Or something like that.

Beckett pitched six innings, through which he absolutely cruised.  He gave up only one run during those six innings.  He looked like a master.  He looked like he was going to take his last start of the 2010 season and turn it into a preview of what we’d be packing in 2011.  But then he gave up three runs in the seventh without recording an out.  And the fact that V-Mart tried to throw a bunted ball to first for an out in a very obviously impossible play was not helpful, because obviously it ended up somewhere down the first base line.  Obviously.  Thus, the infamous one bad inning reared its ugly head yet again.  And that made his line very ugly indeed.  He gave up four runs on eleven hits, ten of which were singles.  Eleven hits.  That ties a season high.  The only starter who has any excuse whatsoever to give up eleven hits is a fifth starter on a very bad day.  Not a starter who, theoretically, is supposed to be an ace.  He walked four and struck out five.  So eleven hits and four walks, although to be fair, one of those was intentional.  But then there was an RBI single, and intentional or unintentional, we paid for it.  All on 105 pitches.  His curveball, changeup, and two-seam didn’t have it.  His cutter and four-seam were great.  His inning pitch counts were reasonable.  His variation of speed was good, his movement was excellent, and his strike zone was packed.  His back limited him to twenty-one starts this year.  He finishes with a record of six and six and an ERA of 5.78, a new career low.  (Or should I say high? Either way, you know what I mean.)

We opened the scoring early.  Scutaro scored on Papi’s single in the first.  We would not score again until the eighth, when Lowell homered to left.  That was one of the best home runs I’ve seen all season because of who hit it and when it was hit.  Ted Williams hit a home run in his last at-bat at Fenway Park.  That’s how a ballplayer’s season should end.  For Lowell, that was his fifth long ball of the season and his first in 106 at-bats.  But that was it for us.  The final score was 5-2.  Wake allowed the  fifth Chicago run.

Thus ends an immensely disappointing and altogether mediocre season for Josh Beckett.  I don’t think he ever truly embodied the ace he used to be once this season.  And if he did, he did it only once  at a time and not consistently, which for a starter is as good as saying that he wasn’t good at all.  But tonight we have a real ace on the mound.  Tonight Jon Lester goes for twenty wins.  So tonight we win for us and we win for him.

Reuters Photo

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So, last night we were officially eliminated.  For the first time since 2006 and the second time in the last eight years.  The Evil Empire and the Rays both clinched.  It was torturous.  Every time the Yankees scored another run, you still held out hope but knew that it would be dramatically less and less likely for Toronto to come back.  Sabathia pitched eight innings; Rivera pitched the ninth.  Technically, we should have been prepared for this.  Technically, we should have been expecting this.  But technically is technically, and in reality, the Royal Rooter in each of us told us to believe no matter how steep the odds were.  And to be completely honest with you, last weekend when we were leading the Yankees on Sunday night, it looked like we had it in the bag.  It looked like we were going to go to the playoffs.  But it turned out that that game would give us the only taste of the thrills of October that we would experience this year.  So the moral of the story is that you can prepare and brace yourself all you want, but when elimination comes, you’re still going to hurt big time.

I don’t know if the fact that it isn’t our fault is the best or worst part of it.  We had no control over outfielders colliding with Beltre’s knee, with sprains, with broken bones, with mono, with any of that.  There was nothing we could have done differently to have prevented it.  It’s the nature of the game that injuries will happen.  It’s not necessarily the nature of the game that so many will befall a team at once, and we can feel good and proud of the fact that we are where we are.  It’s a miracle that we were even in the running this long when you consider the fact that our disabled list this year was itself an All-Star team.  And for that, there is something seriously and horribly wrong with the world if Terry Francona does not win Manager of the Year this year.  But I just feel like, with all the injuries, the 2010 Red Sox never got a chance to show anyone what they were working with.  If we had stayed healthy, we would have won the World Series.  Before the All-Star break, before the onslaught of injuries seriously hit, we were about to land ourselves in first place.  We had started to play great baseball.  Then we lost all the guys who were playing that great baseball, many of them for the rest of the season.  Ellsbury played in only eighteen games this year.  Cameron played in forty-eight.  Pedroia played in seventy-five.  Youk played in 102.  All of them ended up out for the year.  The whole situation just begs the huge question of what might have been had we stayed healthy.

One thing’s for sure: next weekend, I hope we do untold damage to the Evil Empire’s hopes of even thinking about winning the division.  I hope we go out with dignity and give the world a taste of what they can expect from us next year, because next year we’re winning the World Series.  We’ll have the overwhelming majority of the team coming back.  In 2006, we didn’t make the playoffs because the team was injured and we won the World Series the next year.  So if we were even more injured this year, it stands to reason that next year we’ll be even more dominant than we were in 2007.  I’m psyched.  Meanwhile, I hurt.  It’s going to be a long, cold winter, folks.  A long, cold, baseball-less winter.  I feel crushed.  Seriously.  That’s the only way I can explain it.  It just…hurts.

It also hurts because, for some guys, these are the last Major League games they’ll ever play.  Lowell already announced his retirement after this season, and Tek, who has never played a Major League game for any other team, wants to keep playing but apparently it’s unclear whether the front office will be interested.  I personally think that Tek should stay with us as some sort of coach instead of going somewhere like Kansas City or Baltimore or Pittsburgh, but if he wants to play, he wants to play.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  But he’s the backbone of this team both on and off the field.  He wears that “C” for a reason, and I just wish that, for guys like Lowell and Tek, who should go out in blazing glory, and obviously also for the whole team and all of Red Sox Nation, that we had more baseball to play.

And as if last night couldn’t possibly have gotten any worse, our bullpen blew our lead against the Other Sox.

Lackey tossed six frames.  He gave up two runs on three hits, walked two, and struck out five.  That’s decent.  He used 108 pitches to do it.  That’s slightly inefficient.  He used five pitches; four of them, the fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup, were thrown very effectively for strikes.  His slider wasn’t so great, but he didn’t use too many of those.  He started the game by throwing twenty-three pitches in the first inning, so you knew he wouldn’t last that long.  Even so, he one-hit Chicago over the first three innings.  When he did pitch, he pitched very well and put us in position to win.  This was the fourth time in his last five starts that he’s done so.  So it’s also sad that the season is ending so early for players like Lackey, Lester, Buchholz, Belre, V-Mart, and Papi, guys that are on hot streaks and having fantastic years who could have unleashed a world of dominance in the playoffs.

The offense didn’t disappoint.  In the first, Lowrie doubled in Beltre.  In the third, Drew smashed a solo shot, and V-Mart scored on Beltre’s sac fly.  In the sixth, Papi smashed a solo shot.

But that would be it for us.  The Other Sox would score one run in each of the next three innings.  Atchison allowed a run via Hill.  Hill allowed his inherited runner to score and received a hold.  Bard allowed a run and received a blown save; he opened the eighth with an eleven-pitch walk to who but Manny Ramirez.  Bowden allowed the walkoff and took the loss.  There was a one-out single, which chased Bowden.  Richardson came on, and there were two steals to third and a walk.  Then Fox came on, and there was a single that barely eluded Nava, and there was a walkoff, and there was a loss, but it didn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things anymore because, by that time, New York had already won.

We have five games left in the 2010 season: two more in Chicago, and three at home against the Yankees this weekend.  It’s going to be Beckett today and Lester tomorrow, and we’ll have to wait for the official starter schedule for the weekend.  Let’s make these last five games, five games to remember.  The team can relax now and just have fun playing the game.  The Nation can watch every minute of baseball we can to see the team off for the winter.  And let’s just go out there and provide a preview of 2011.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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The name of last night’s game was, without a doubt, “Clay Buchholz.” If Buchholz had been an offense, he alone would have scored twenty runs.  That’s how good his pitching was.  It was outstanding.  After a while, I don’t even know why the Other Sox continued to swing.  And there’s obviously the added bonus of the fact that the Yankees lost, so we live to play for October another day.

Buchholz pitched eight innings of one-run ball.  He allowed five hits, walked only one, and struck out five, four swinging and one looking.  He picked up his seventeenth win of the year.  His ERA is 2.33. That’s second in the American League.  (The first is Felix Hernandez.) That ERA is so low, I can’t even understand it.  And he did all of that with 109 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  That’s a sixty-four percent strike rate.  That’s ridiculous.

He threw his fastball at a maximum speed of ninety-eight miles per hour.  No starter should throw a fastball that fast.  He threw his slider at a maximum speed of ninety-four miles per hour.  You have absolutely no idea how difficult it is to be on the receiving end of a pitch that’s supposed to be an offspeed but that technically isn’t because there are pitchers out there whose goal is just to get their heater up to that speed.  And of course his curveball and changeup were right there working.

He threw nine pitches in the first.  He peaked at twenty in the third.  He ended with eleven in the eighth.  He pounded the zone.  He was aggressive with his repertoire.  If he wanted a pitch to cut, it cut.  If he wanted a pitch to slide, it slid.  And if he wanted a pitch to sail right by any attempt to make contact with it, it did that too.

And he was backed by solid offense.  Papi doubled in career RBI numbers ninety-nine and one hundred in the first; this is his first one-hundred-plus-RBI season since 2007.  Last year he almost made it with ninety-nine.  He would finish the night two for five.  He would almost score a third run in the first on Lowell’s single, but of course he was thrown out at the plate.  When Buchholz took the hill, he already possessed a two-run lead.  In the third, Scutaro scored on V-Mart’s sac fly.  In the fifth, Beltre singled in his one hundredth RBI this year.  In the seventh, V-Mart singled in Scutaro, extending his hitting streak to twelve games.  He would finish the night three for four.  And in the eighth, Beltre tripled in his next RBI, making him four for five on the night.  This is his first one-hundred-plus-RBI season since 2004.  Scutaro ended up going three for five.  Atchison handled the ninth.  6-1 was the final score.

That’s it.  Short and sweet.  The final score was 6-1, and basically we just cruised in every sense of the word.  We’re throwing Lackey tonight.  Remember, if we lose or if the Yankees win, we’re officially out.  Let’s not have that happen.  Seriously.

In other news, the Pats beat the Bills on Sunday, 38-30.  The final score may have been close, but we looked like we had a handle on the game the entire time.  Tom Brady, as usual, looked terrific.

AP Photo

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