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Posts Tagged ‘Washington Capitals’

We were down by two before we came up to bat.  Doubront’s second pitch of the game was hit for a single.  He then hit a batter and issued a wild pitch and two consecutive walks, the latter of which obviously resulted in a run.  The sac fly he gave up after that also scored a run.  But here’s the thing about first innings.  They’re not always indicative of what’s going to happen later.

In Doubront’s case, that was a good thing.  And a correct observation.  He was almost impeccable for the rest of his start; his only other blemish occurred in the seventh.  He gave up a single made worse by a passed ball by Salty.  After securing a groundout, second base was stolen and, on another groundout, a run was scored.  Doubront gave up a single before being replaced by Tazawa, who got through the rest of the inning.  Bard came out for the eighth; he gave up two walks, and Wilson gave up a single that scored one.  Miller pitched the ninth.

No matter how well you’re pitching, it’s always nice to have run support.  Doubront gave up runs in the first but not consequently; similarly, the Astros didn’t give up runs in the first but, fortunately for us, not consequently.

By the time the second inning was out, the game was ours.  Carp grounded out to start it, and then Salty worked a walk.  Middlebrooks doubled, and Drew walked to load the bases.  Ellsbury’s subsequent single plated two.  Nava then grounded out, Pedroia walked to re-load the bases, and Papi’s subsequent double plated two.

The third inning was pretty quick for both teams; the Astros went down in order and, aside from Drew’s walk, so did we.  Nava led off the fourth and eventually scored on a sac fly by Papi.  And then there was the bottom of the seventh.  Houston may have thought that they made a dent when they got that third run off Doubront; in fact, they came close.  In reality, it wasn’t meant to be.  If we didn’t win the game in the second, we won it for sure in the seventh.

Houston made a pitching change, and after Gomes flied out, they probably thought it would go well.  It didn’t.  Salty doubled, Middlebrooks walked, Drew singled in Salty, Ellsbury struck out, Drew singled in Middlebrooks, and Pedroia singled in Drew.

We won, 8-4.  How’s that for a first-inning let-down.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps, 3-2, in sudden death.

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It’s the middle of March.  The roster is thinning down, and the team’s performance is moving up.  As Opening Day nears, the pitchers especially are the players to watch.  Wins and losses means nothing in Spring Training, when regulars routinely don’t complete games, but a game is a game, and you can watch a pitcher’s motion and see how comfortable he is with certain pitches and certain situations.  Also pay attention to defense and injury in the field.  These things won’t necessarily predict our performance this year, but at least we’ll be able to tell how ready this year’s team is to face the music when the season starts.  Honestly, I have to say, it looks pretty good.

Nava is surely going to win a spot on the bench now that he’s proven himself at first, where he’s seen playing time this spring.  Drew has been out with a concussion that he sustained after getting hit by a pitch.  Papi started running the bases a bit but, due to soreness in his right foot derived from his Achilles injury, he’s had to take it easy as well.  While he’s sat out, Farrell’s been rotating the DH spot.  Unfortunately, he may very well start the season on the disabled list.  So will Breslow, due to problems with his left shoulder, and Morales, due to problems with his lower back.  Napoli actually saw action in consecutive days and managed to survive, which was a very good sign.  Aceves returned to camp after Team Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.  Fortunately, he wasn’t injured in the significant brawl that broke out between Team Mexico and Team Canada when the former got upset because the latter bunted with the game practically won already.  Team Mexico didn’t know about the Classic’s tiebreakers, which use run differential, and thought it was bad form.  So several Canadian players ganged up on Aceves and dragged him to the ground.  Like I said, we’re pretty lucky he wasn’t injured.  Victorino will also be heading back to camp now that Team USA is out.  Steven Wright, the knuckleballer who may not be, since he’s having some trouble getting a handle on the pitch, got cut along with Deven Marrero, Drake Britton, Justin Henry, Alex Hassan, Mark Hamilton, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Juan Carlos Linares, Pedro Beato, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Christian Velazquez, Daniel Butler, and Alex Wilson.  Ryan Westmoreland, once considered one of our best farmboys, is retiring.  We traded cash to Baltimore for Mike Flacco, who plays first base.  Yes, he’s the brother of Joe Flacco.  Yaz made his annual visit to camp, making the rounds with current Sox and former teammates.

Now let’s talk action.  We beat the Rays on March 4, 5-1.  Doubront made his debut and tossed 1.2 shutout innings including a hit, two walks, and two K’s.  Carpenter also tossed a shutout frame to end the game.  Iglesias went two for two with two doubles; Salty also had a double to his credit, and Overbay tripled.  We were back in action Wednesday opposite the Pirates, who beat us, 9-3.  On the bright side, Lester looked especially sharp; he hurled four comforting and relief-inspiring innings, during which he allowed one hit on two runs while walking three and striking out three.  I wasn’t a fan of the three walks, but it’s more important that he slowly but steadily lengthens his starts without also augmenting his run total.  Wright took the loss and gave up five runs on five hits; Tazawa pitched a shutout inning to end it.  Ciriaco went two for four, and Gomes and Salty both doubled.  We beat the Twins on Thursday, 12-5.  For the first three innings, it was all Buchholz, who dominated with a shutout performance and issued two hits, no walks, and four K’s.  Hanrahan delivered a deflating fail of a third of an inning, during which he gave up four runs on four hits, but Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Meanwhile, Pedroia and Napoli each collected two hits; Pedroia doubled and Napoli smacked a home run that seemed like he could really get used to the power again.  The Twins bested us the next day, though, with a shutout performance.  Dempster took the loss and gave up the game’s only two runs.  We lost to the O’s on Saturday, 5-2.  Doubront gave up two runs on four hits over three innings with a walk and five strikeouts; Hanrahan and Bailey both delivered shutout frames.  Salty had himself two hits, and Overbay doubled.

We beat the Rays on Sunday, 6-2.  Lackey worked three and two-thirds inning and gave up two runs on four hits, one of them a homer, while walking two and striking out two.  It doesn’t seem like much, but that start was better than most of the ones we’ve seen from him in recent memory; granted, it doesn’t take much from him at this point to constitute a good sign, but you have to start rebuilding somewhere.  Overbay went two for three, and Ross had himself a three-run jack.  The Marlins beat us on Monday, 8-7; Lester delivered five beautiful innings, giving up one run on three hits while walking none and striking out four.  Carpenter took the blown save and the loss, giving up two runs on two hits en route to recording the game’s last two outs.  Salty doubled, and Middlebrooks homered for the first time since getting injured! He looked mighty comfortable doing it, too.  Like he could do it again.  Repeatedly.  We beat the Jays on Tuesday, 5-3.  Buchholz kept up his strong performance with four shutout innings during which he issued one K and gave up three hits.  Bailey turned in a shutout inning of his own.  Nava, Napoli, and Sweeney each had two hits; Napoli, Sweeney, and Middlebrooks each hit doubles.

We had Wednesday off and bested the Twins on Thursday, 7-3.  Dempster picked up the win with four innings of one-run, three-hit ball; Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Ellsbury went two for three with a double; Iglesias smacked a double as well.  Friday’s game against Baltimore ended in a tie at three after ten; Mortensen started and tossed three shutout innings of two-hit ball, and no one had a multihit game.  We crushed Tampa Bay on Saturday, 9-2.  Aceves pitched four and one-third innings during which he gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and five K’s.  Iglesias and Gomez both had two hits; Iglesias tripled, and Gomez doubled.  We beat Tampa Bay again yesterday, 5-1, on the shoulders of a literally perfect performance by Lester.  Six innings.  No runs.  No hits.  No walks.  Six K’s, or an average of one per inning.  Even Hanrahan got in the spirit and delivered a shutout inning.  It was only Spring Training, but it was a glorious indication of things to come.  Expect him to start on Opening Day for sure.  Middlebrooks went two for three, and Gomes was perfect at the plate; both doubled.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps in sudden death but then beat the Leafs, Flyers, and Sens.  We lost to the Penguins and then beat the Panthers and Caps before losing to the Penguins again.

Boston Herald Staff/Christopher Evans

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We barely squeaked by in this one.  Still, we completed the sweep, and we, the team, and our record can all certainly feel mighty good about that.  Also, pretty much the entire bullpen was rolled out to secure the victory; we’ll get to their performance later.

Buchholz didn’t pitch that well, even though he got the W.  He allowed five runs on ten hits in five and one-third innings while walking three and striking out two.  He threw four pitches; most of them were four-seams, but he threw a substantial number of curveballs and cutters.  He threw only a handful of changeups; he himself admitted to lacking confidence in that particular pitch.  In total, it came to 107 pitches, sixty-nine for strikes.  It was obviously not his best work in the least.  But thanks to the offense and the bullpen, it was enough.

Ironically, he faced the minimum in the fifth, the inning right before most of his problems started.  See, he had allowed only one run previously; the other four were inherited runners that Atchison, Thomas, and Albers allowed to score.  You read right.  There were four pitches in that inning alone.  What is it with the starters and their bad innings lately?

The inning began with a strikeout that was followed by two consecutive singles, an RBI double, and a walk.  Then Atchison came on and allowed a two-RBI single.  Then Thomas came on and allowed an RBI double and hit a batter.  Then Albers came on and allowed an RBI single.  And then, and only then, did he manage to induce a double play to end it.  Padilla then pitched the seventh, Morales pitched the eighth, and Aceves pitched the ninth.  Albers, Padilla, and Morales received holds, with Aceves obviously receiving the save.

So here’s the problem, and it’s a problem I’ve often spoken of in the past.  You can’t afford to take the attitude that, since this one time they only allowed the maximum number of runs that they could possibly allow and still keep a lead intact, the bullpen was successful.  The bullpen was not successful.  Making a mess that your offense has to clean up is not success.  Making a mess that your offense has to clean up is failure.  We were fortunate that we scored one more run than they did in the end, but what if we didn’t? It’s not like the bullpen made a conscious decision to not allow one more run.  If the offense hadn’t scored seven runs, we may have lost.  It doesn’t matter if runs scored by inherited runners are charged to the starter; when a reliever inherits a bases-loaded situation, damage should not be expected, and we should not have to be surprised if the reliever is indeed lights-out.  I’m just saying.

Anyway, the offense didn’t waste much time getting on the board.  Papi opened the second with a walk, and then Youk singled, Salty struck out, Ross hit an RBI single, Byrd lined out, and Aviles smacked a three-run shot to left on a slider, the second pitch of the at-bat.  With that one swing, we had a four-run lead.  He crushed that ball.  He is absolutely on fire.

The very next inning, Salty hit a two-RBI single.  Pedroia led off the fifth with a triple and scored on a single by Gonzalez.  We went down in order in the last four innings of the game.  Fortunately, we’d already scored all the runs we’d need.

The final score was 7-6, and we posted ten hits.  Only three of those were for extra bases, and two of them, a double and a triple, were hit by Pedroia, who went three for four and was one homer shy of the cycle.  That was our only multi-hit performance.  So we were fortunate that, last night, it was enough.  Although the absolute last thing that we needed was Ross leaving in the sixth due to soreness in his left knee.  He better not be out for long.

In other news, the season, the playoffs, and the aspirations of the Bruins were officially ended by a positively heart-wrenching Game Seven.  We lost, 2-1, in sudden death overtime at 2:57.  Tyler Seguin scored our only goal, and Tim Thomas made twenty-six saves.  For the first time in the history of the playoffs of the National Hockey League, an entire seven-game series was ecided by one goal.  The three Game Sevens that we played in order to win the Stanley Cup last year was a record; since I was hoping for a repeat, I was hoping that this Game Seven would prove to be just as joyous as the others.  Clearly I was sorely and sadly mistaken.  Well, it’s been both frustrating and fun.  It’s a painful, painful way to go out, but as we’re used to saying in Boston, there’s always next year.

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We won! Things have been so bad lately that I almost can’t believe it! I mean, it wasn’t exactly a resounding defeat as far as the final score is concerned, but the standings and the record books don’t care about the lead you win with.  They just care that you won, and we won, so there you go.  It was a mediocre win, but as a win by itself it was exactly what the doctor ordered.  Besides, with the way we’ve been playing recently, we technically have no right to complain.

Lester did good work except for one bad inning, which we’ve seen before.  He gave up five runs on six hits while walking four and striking out four over seven innings.  He threw 112 pitches.  Fortunately, seventy-one of those were strikes, and he was working with a keen cut fastball with some effective offspeeds mixed in.

The bad inning as the fourth, when four of his five runs were allowed, including a two-run home run with two out.  In addition to that, there was a two-run double.  He threw thirty pitches that inning.  After that, he only gave up one run on a double play in the fifth, and that was it.  His pitch count was heavily weighted toward the first two thirds of his appearance; he threw tenty pitches in the first, twelve in the second, and fourteen in the third in addition to the thirty in the fourth.  He then threw nineteen in the fifth but only nine in the sixth and eight in the seventh.

What was most refreshing about this game was that the bullpen actually limited the Twins’ scoring to those five runs.  You read right.  The bullpen did not allow a single run all night long.  Four innings, no runs.  Two hits and one walk and no strikeouts, but no runs.  Not coincidentally, Bard actually secured the last two outs of the eighth inning, in for Morales, and picked up the win.  Obviously that means he’s skipped his start.  Supposedly he’ll still remain a starter, but seeing him take the ball in the eighth sure was a site for sore eyes.  Thanks to him, the two-base error by Sweeney, which snapped a streak of fielding perfection 221 games long, did not result in damge.  And then Aceves, wouldn’t you know it, recorded a save in the ninth.

So now let’s talk about the other half of the win.  We got on the board first in the first when Gonzalez hit a sac fly.  Then Youk led off the second with a single and Salty homered on a slider barely into the right field deck.  His pitch was low; it was so low that, had he not swung, it should have been called a ball by a mile.  But he’s a great low-ball hitter.

We didn’t score again until the seventh, when Ross tied the game; after Youk opened the inning with a groundout, Salty singled and then Ross let one of his own rip on the first pitch of the at-bat, a sinker, into the second left field deck.  You knew that ball was out.  Ross himself knew it was out, and he flipped his bat and just started trotting around the bases.  It was awesome.

And lastly, it was Ross who put the finishing touches on our final score by breaking his own tie with a solo shot in the ninth on the second pitch of the at-bat, a four-seam, into the first right field deck.  He hit multiple homers in a single game for the eighth time in his career.  More importantly, he gave the team an incredibly essential jolt back to life.  There’s nothing like a win to get the juices flowing; maybe this will be the one that finally puts us on the right track.

In other news, the Bruins gave the Caps a taste of their own medicine to force a final game; we won, 4-3!

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The story that I am about to tell has been all too familiar to us this season so far.  It’s a story that’s a recipe for disaster going forward; indeed, it’s already been a recipe of disaster every single time it’s taken place.  It’s an ugly and unfortunate story, and technically it’s a story that could have been avoided (but that’s another story).  Right now, on this team, it’s the worst story of all.

It’s the story of the bullpen.

Everything started out so nicely.  Doubront allowed one run on four hits while walking three and striking out seven.  That one run was the product of a solo shot with two out in the sixth.  His only one-two-three inning was the fourth, during which he threw fifteen pitches, but his game low was eleven in the third; at the other extreme, he threw twenty-two in the second and twenty-one in the fifth.  All in all, a very solid start indeed and one that was half of why we were in the game after he left.

The other half was the offense, which made itself busy by scoring nine runs before the Evil Empire scored any: two in the first, three in the second, two in the third, and two more in the fifth.

In the first, Gonzalez and Papi both hit RBI doubles.  In the second, Aviles and Pedroia both hit RBI singles, and Sweeney hit a sac fly.  In the third, McDonald hit a sac fly with the bases loaded, and Aviles hit an RBI single.  In the fifth, Salty opened with a double after which Ross homered to center field.  It was a wallop of a swing on the second pitch of the at-bat, a slider clocked at eighty-seven miles per hour.  It sailed straight out.

Those were the only runs we scored in the entire game.  Even after Doubront allowed the home run, we were up by eight.  I don’t know about you, but I was looking forward to that drubbing going on record in order to even our record against the Yanks this year and to deliver some sort of thrashing before they left Boston.  I was hoping that it was going to be the first step in a series win and a compensatory measure for the loss we had to accept on Fenway’s hundredth birthday.

And then the bullpen entered the picture, and it ruined everything in the worst way.

It began almost immediately; the seventh inning saw three different pitchers alone.  Padilla was first; he managed to secure the first out with a strikeout on four pitches.  Then there were two consecutive singles and a four-pitch walk followed by that insult of insults: a grand slam, which was exactly what we needed on Friday to tie it.  To add further insult to that insults of insults, it was hit on the first and only pitch of the at-bat.  It was a thoroughly horrible experience to have to witness it.  Now, you would think that at that point Bobby V. would change pitchers; more likely, after the bases were loaded you were probably thinking that he should change pitchers.  Only after Padilla allowed a double after that did Bobby V. change pitchers.

He went to Albers.  Aviles put runners at the corners thanks to a fielding error, and then Albers allowed another home run.  Then he was replaced by Morales, who allowed a single followed by two quick outs, including a strikeout on three pitches.

The eighth saw four different pitchers.  Morales stayed on the mound long enough to allow a single before he was replaced by Aceves.  Aceves allowed an eight-pitch walk and an RBI double followed by an intentional and an unintentional walk.  Then there was another RBI double and another intentional walk, at which point Aceves was relieved by Thomas.  Thomas induced a double play but then allowed another RBI double followed by a single, at which point he was replaced by Tazawa, who allowed an RBI single and then the final out of the inning.

We went down in the eighth, the Yanks went down in the ninth, and in the bottom of the ninth we hit two singles and that was it.

So just to recap: the Yanks scored fifteen runs.  One in the sixth, and seven each in the seventh and eighth.  Not seven total over two innings, which would have been bad enough.  Seven each.  As in, they scored seven runs twice in two separate innings, during which our bullpen faced a combined twenty-three batters, in the same game.  It was actually sickening to watch it.  Sickening.  It was so egregiously bad that I just don’t know what to think anymore.  Something obviously has to be done; it’s not like we can afford to have a bullpen that keeps doing this.

It’s humiliating and embarrassing and gut-wrenching and completely pathetic to hold an eight-run lead and then lose it over the course of essentially two innings.  But did we really have to go through that at the hands of the Yankees? Of all teams, why did it have to be the Yankees?

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen the bullpen fail so epically and totally.  I mean, it was a whole failure in every sense of that phrase.  The bullpen left absolutely no stone unturned in ensuring that Red Sox Nation was privy to one of the worst losses we’ve ever had the displeasure to see in a very long time, and that includes all of the other badness that’s happen to us this season so far.

Aviles, Pedroia, and Ross all went two for five; Papi was perfect at the plate with a four-for-four performance.  We posted seventeen hits, seven of which were for extra bases, all but one of which was a home run.  So even if the Yankees had scored seven runs in only one of those innings and not the other, we would have managed to win by one.  But no.  Our bullpen had to let the Yankees take batting practice.  And our closer, in case you were wondering, didn’t even record a single out for the third time this year.  The final score was 15-9.

By the way, we traded Michael Bowden and a player to be named later to the Cubs for Marlon Byrd, being that most of our outfield is on the DL and whatnot.  And Youk left the game in the fourth with a left quad contusion.

In other news, the Caps beat us again, 4-3.  There is no room for mistakes anymore.

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Happy one hundredth birthday, Fenway Park! It really his America’s Most Beloved Ballpark, and for good reason.  No other ballpark is this old or – let’s face it – this totally awesome.  When you watch a game there, you really have this overwhelming sense of the history that’s gone down, and you wonder what the walls would say if they could talk.  That park saw everything.  For hundred years, most of them culminating in postseason disappointment so profoundly gut-wrenching that your first instinct would be to think that somebody had to have planned it that way, this park bore witness to the lives and times of the players who played, the managers who managed, and the fans who supported, day in and day out, no matter how good or bad it got.  Standing like a sentinel right in the middle of Boston, it has seen everything that’s happened, both in and out of baseball, in that city in the last hundred years.  Think about that for a minute.  If the walls could talk, what would they say? In addition to the regular lot, this park has seen Major League baseball players, minor league baseball players, National League baseball players, college baseball players, high school baseball players, football players, hockey players, basketball players, soccer players, boxers, musicians, soldiers, fans from every walk of life, wins, losses, World Series, no-hitters, a five-hundred-foot home run, more than ten thousand home runs total, the tallest wall in any ballpark in the United States, the first foul ball screen ever used, the only in-play ladder in Major League Baseball, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last political speech, and so much more.

This park is alive with character.  Every part of the park has a story: the Green Monster that now stands in place of Duffy’s Cliff, the Pesky Pole, the Fisk Pole, the retired numbers, Willamsburg, the bullpens.  Everything.  It’s small, and the seats don’t have cushions, and you can’t order gourmet food behind home plate.  But seriously, who wants to go to a baseball game just to feel like you’re watching the game on television or at a restaurant? No, you want to feel the park and to live the experience.  We’ve got the best fans in all of sport, I’d say, and we’ve got the best venue to match.

If April 20, 1912 was the day that Red Sox Nation and Fenway Park got married, then April 20, 2012 was the day that Red Sox Nation and Fenway Park renewed their vows.  I can’t even bear the thought that several years ago we almost lost Fenway Park forever, and I can bear the thought even less that there weren’t more people interested in saving it.  It’s truly a gem of a ballpark, and it’s one of every Red Sox fan’s favorite places in the whole world.

But what would a family affair be without a little token drama? Apparently all living uniformed personnel were invited, but apparently Theo wasn’t invited until Thursday and declined to go.  Curt Schilling, who has made no secret of his criticism of Bobby V., declined an invitation due to a commitment to his business.  It was speculated that Tito wouldn’t be there, but after all he was.  It’s really a shame that all this drama has to get in the way of such a great day in the history of what’s brought all these diverse people together.  I know it’s corny, but why can’t we all just get along, just for one day? Obviously we weren’t there for any of the drama, so we can’t really know how bad or not-so-bad it was, but anyway it would have been nice to have these individuals, who’ve been so crucial to bringing about what is (“is,” and hopefully not “was”) arguably a golden age in our club’s history.

Anyway, here are the details.  There was an introduction that basically said that the constant throughout history is baseball, and the constant throughout baseball is Fenway, and the constant throughout us disparate fans is this team.  Then John Williams conducted the Boston Pops in playing “Fanfare for Fenway,” his new composition.  There was the national anthem.  There was the flyover, which always gets me.  Then there was a steady stream of past players in their uniforms; they all congregated in the parts of the field that they played.  Most of the who’s-who as well as the unknowns of Red Sox history was there, those that could barely walk and those who recently retired.  It was really just beautiful to see generations of players represented before generations of fans.  You could acutely feel that you were witnessing history not only by bearing witness to the occasion but also by remembering that each and every one of those players had borne witness to Red Sox Nation.  (Incidentally, the whole procession received continuous applause and a standing ovation.  Terry Francona’s applause and name-chanting was deafeningly thunderous, as it should have been.  Nomar, Pedro, Yaz, and Pesky also received substantial thunder.  And also Wake, Tek, Bobby Doerr, Jerry Remy, Jim Rice, Kevin Millar, and a host of others too numerous to name.) Then there was a toast with grape juice, supplied at every seat for every fan of every age, led by Pedro and Millar, which as you can imagine was highly, highly entertaining and completely brought you back to 2004.  It was literally the largest toast in one venue, as in a new world record.  But hey, that’s the strength of Red Sox Nation for you.

The first pitch was thrown from the row of seats behind the first base dugout by the mayor of Boston, just like it was one hundred years ago.  This year, Thomas Menino was joined by Caroline Kennedy and Thomas Fitzgerald, two descendants of 1912 Boston’s Mayor John Fitzgerald.

I have to say, the throwback uniforms were a real treat.  How fortuitous that the schedule allowed us to play the exact same team, too.  I have to admit, even though the score a hundred years ago was 7-6 in eleven innings, I was hoping for a big more of a thrashing, as close as a close game would have been to the original may have been.  Ultimately, a win to preserve the history would have been very much appreciated and appropriate.

Sadly, a win was not to be.  Buchholz allowed home run after home run after home run.  Now that he and Beckett have both allowed five home runs in one game this season, the 2012 club becomes one of only three teams in Major League history to carry two starters who have given up five home runs each in one game in one season.  (Incidentally, one of the other two was the 2009 club, and Buchholz and Beckett were both at fault then too.) He gave up six runs, five earned (you can thank Pedroia for dropping a routine popup, a rare sight indeed), on nine hits, five of which were home runs.  All of the home runs were solo shots, and three of them led off innings.  He only allowed one other extra-base hit, a double.  He lasted six innings, walked two, and struck out two.

Buchholz used four pitches: a four-seam, a cutter, a curveball, and a changeup.  His four-seam got up to ninety-five miles per hour and was his most abundant and effective pitch; he threw it for strikes more than eighty percent of the time.  The others were thrown for strikes less than sixty percent of the time, which is unfortunate since the majority of his pitches category-wise were off-speeds.

Atchison pitched the seventh, Thomas and Tazawa teamed up for the eighth, and Tazawa pitched the ninth.

We got on the board in the second when Papi homered to the Green Monster.  The ball, a fastball, bounced off of the very top of the wall and was ruled a double before it came under review and was rightly overturned.  In the fifth, a pair of doubles by Ross and Aviles scored another run.  That was all we managed.  Don’t even think for  second that you weren’t thinking that the stage may have been set for something truly epic: a recreation of the original final score.  Our final score ended up being 6-2, but just imagine if we could have somehow scored four more runs to tie it, gone to the eleventh inning, and then scored one more run?

It seemed like every single one of our rallies was killed before it got started.  Aviles and Papi each had two hits for the only multi-hit performances of the day.  In addition to the home run and those two doubles, we hit two more, and that was it for extra bases.  Not one member of our lineup walked.  Repko made a decidedly Ellsbury-esque catch.  I hope Bobby V. paid attention to the “We Want Tito” chant in the ninth; we have the lowest team ERA in the Majors and are now on a four-game losing streak overall and a four-game home losing streak for the first time since 2010 with a record of four and nine.

At any rate, one hundred years of Fenway Park have come and gone, so here’s to the next hundred.  Here’s to a happy birthday to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.  Fenway Park, all that you’ve seen and all that you mean, we forever salute you!

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps, 2-1.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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Wow.  Talk about a close game.  That was a pitcher’s duel if I’ve ever seen it.  You don’t get any closer to a pitcher’s duel than a final score of 1-0.  That tells you that the match was as even as it could possibly get.  Unfortunately, we were on the losing end of the 1-0, but there were some substantial silver linings in this one.

Bard inevitably took the loss, but he pitched absolutely spectacularly.  He only used three pitches – a four-seam that got up to ninety-six miles per hour and that made you just dream about him returning to the closer’s role we’d penciled him into when Jonathan Papelbon walked, a changeup at ninety-three miles per hour, and a slider – but that was really the only aspect of his start that gave him away as someone who’s new at this.  Other than that, he looked absolutely spectacular.  He mixed those pitches really well, which is important if you don’t have a lot to work with, and we can give him credit for that, for keeping his release point pretty tight, and for overpowering hitters until the seventh inning.

Bard’s line wasn’t exactly identical to James Shields’s, number for number.  Bard lasted six and two-thirds innings to Shields’s eight and one third, Bard walked seven to Shields’s two, and obviously Bard gave up one run to Shields’s zero.  But Bard struck out seven to Shields’s five.  Bard was less efficient than Shields; he threw 111 pitches, sixty-three of which were strikes, while Shields threw 115 pitches, seventy-six of which were strikes, over more innings.  But obviously Bard completely held his own, and given the circumstances, I’d say that that’s exactly what we needed to see in order to truly believe that starting is something that he could, not simply do, and not simply do well, but do as well as we need him to do it.

Bard began his start auspiciously; he needed only eight pitches to get through the first.  He threw fifteen in the second and fourth, eighteen in the third, twenty-one in the fifth, ten in the sixth, and twenty-four in the seventh before he was pulled.  His first inning was one-two-three.  He hit a batter in the second.  He issued his second walk in the third but secured all three outs via the K.  His sixth was one-two-three as well.  In every inning that was not one-two-three, Bard issued at least one walk.

As you can imagine, he allowed his run in the seventh before he was pulled.  A groundout on two pitches and a strikeout on three provided two quick outs to open the inning, but then two walks and a single loaded the bases, and then Bard walked Evan Longoria on four pitches to score the winning run.  That was a hugely painful moment.  You could tell after the first walk that inning that he was struggling and tired, and to see him walk in what would prove to be the winning run was just heart-wrenching.  That one run cost us a four-game sweep and cost Bard what would have been, had the offense been able to muster two runs, which is not even a third of the runs that we’d scored in our two breakout games, a well-deserved win for Bard, his first of the year and as a starter.  It was absolutely, positively painful to watch.

Needless to say, he was replaced by Thomas after that, who finished the seventh and pitched through the eighth.  Albers pitched the ninth.  Both relievers obviously delivered shutout performances, and you could say that Bobby V. should have had the foresight to have gone to Albers before the bases were loaded.  In fact, you should say that.  Bobby V. said that after the game, and it’s the second such mistake he’s made this season.  Even Longoria was surprised to have been facing Bard and not a reliever at that point.  Apparently, Bobby V. wanted Bard to know that he trusts him to get out of a jam.  Well, I have to say, not extricating yourself from the jam successfully doesn’t really give anyone much to trust in after all.

At any rate, the offense was completely stymied.  We collected four hits to the Rays’ seven, and none of them were for extra bases.  Ross’s two-for-four performance was our only multi-hit game. The other two hits belonged to Gonzalez and Pedroia, who also walked.  Papi and Punto accounted for the other two walks we received.  We only had three chances with runners in scoring position and clearly did not take advantage of any of them.  We also grounded into two double plays.  Sweeney made a glittering catch in the second to end the inning; he dove and slid to make it, and it was very Ellsbury-esque.

Well, you know what they say: walks will haunt, and this one certainly haunted.  That one run felt like ten in those late innings when the bats were still silent.  Bard dazzled, and it certainly wasn’t helpful that, with two out and two men on in the ninth (Pedroia’s walk and Papi’s walk, which was intentional), Ross struck out.  I would go so far as to say that Ross’s called strikeout wasn’t his fault but the fault of home plate umpire Larry Vanover, whose three calls of strikes were incorrect, as they should have been rightly called balls.  It was one of the more infuriating umpire performances I’ve seen in a good, long while.  Ross has proven to be a great hitter; who knows? Maybe we would have been able to score those two runs after all.  To say that I was positively livid is an understatement.  The game truly ended on a sour note.

By the way, a note on Bobby V., since we’re already talking about bad decisions he’s made.  You an add to that list of bad decisions a comment he made on television that claimed that Youk is not as committed physically and emotionally to the game as he has been in the past.  Youk found out about it from his agent, and then the two spoke directly, and apparently Bobby V. apologized and said that the comment was taken out of context.  There are several things wrong with this incident.  First of all, a manager should not criticize his players in public.  Secondly, if a player is criticized, he should not be the last to know.  Thirdly, a manager should not say things that can prove to be detrimental if taken out of context.  Red Sox Nation has seen how committed Youk is, how much of a dirt dog and a team player he is and how passionate he is about the game and this team.  Red Sox Nation has also had occasion to see the positive effects of a manager’s leadership style that emphasizes privacy and discretion.  Bobby V. would indeed do well to learn from this incident.

In other news, the B’s beat the Caps, 4-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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