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Posts Tagged ‘Wild Card’

From a pitching perspective, last night’s loss was similar to Tuesday’s loss, in which Buchholz had a less-than-stellar start but a start sufficiently decent enough that we should have been able to win.  Last night’s loss was not similar to Tuesday’s loss in that last night there was no blown save.  In fact, last night there was no relief appearance of any kind.

That was because Lester dug deep and went the distance.  It wasn’t easy; you could see that, while he too was having a less-than-stellar but but still okay-decent-mediocre start, it wasn’t coming easily and fluidly.  He had to work hard.  In eight innings, he threw 121 pitches, and they just didn’t come out of his hand as easily as they do when you can tell that he’s totally in the zone.  He walked three, struck out two, and allowed five runs on nine hits.

He began the game with a four-pitch walk, which should have been an indication of the type of outing that he was going to have; that walk turned into a run on a double.  He retired the side in the second and then gave up four consecutive singles in the third that brought in two more runs.  And then he began the fourth with a five-pitch walk followed by a single; the walk turned into a run on a double play.

So as you can see he did struggle in the first half of his innings and then turned it around pretty quickly.  Because after that he was lights out.  But unfortunately the damage had already been done, so I have to label that start as okay-decent-mediocre but, if you think about it, if Lester had pitched less innings and allowed less runs, the Angels probably would have scored five runs anyway because the bullpen probably would have allowed a couple.  So from a pitching perspective it was just your average start.  But kind of not since Lester went the distance, which is huge, since we haven’t seen that too often this year.

So that readily identifies the fact that the reason why we lost wasn’t that Lester had a bad day; the reason why we lost was that the hitters had a bad day.  We scored a grand total of two runs to their five.  Loney led off the second with a single, and then Ross lined out and then Salty and Lavarnway worked back-to-back walks to load the bases.  And Aviles stepped up to the plate literally but not figuratively, because all he could muster was a sac fly that plated one.  That’s better than nothing, but it wasn’t enough.  Similarly, Ciriaco struck out to end the threat.  It turned out to be our best opportunity all game to do any damage whatsoever.  And we wasted it.

We didn’t score again until the sixth, which began with Ellsbury striking out.  Then, Loney hit his first home run in a Boston uniform, a solo shot that ended up beyond the right field fence.  He hit it on an 0-2 count; he had taken two curveballs for strikes.  He then received an eighty-two mile-per-hour slider and clobbered it.

Other than that, we went down in order in the first and fifth, Pedroia doubled in the third as the inning’s only baserunner, and same with Ross’s single in the fourth and Aviles’s singles in the seventh and ninth.  The eighth inning was the only inning during which we didn’t score in which we had more than one baserunner; Pedroia walked and Loney singled.

So this is the second time in the last two weeks that the Angels have swept us.  You can’t help thinking that, all else being equal, if only Lester’s first four innings were like his last four, we would have won with those two runs we scored.  Well, at least the bullpen got a rest.  By the way, we are eight games under .500 and eleven games away from the Wild Card, in case you were wondering.

The Kansas City Star
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Tek officially retired on Thursday; we all knew this was coming, so I’ve already written the tribute, although there are a few things I’d like to add.  First, after initially doing so, he has since come to regret autographing photos of the A-Rod fight because he doesn’t want to condone that kind of behavior, which speaks volumes about his sportsmanship, professionalism, and awareness of his status as a role model.  Second, Scott Boras reportedly did not allow other teams to make formal offers to Tek due to his knowledge of Tek’s allegiance to us; I’d expect that, for Boras, this must be some kind of first.  Third, here’s a neat article containing the comments of some of New England’s who’s-who of sports journalism when we first picked up Tek; boy, does it take you back.  Fourth, Tek was very thankful in his retirement announcement; he thanked everyone.  He thanked his coaches, teammates, and fans as well as the brass and his family.  Here’s a quote:

As I walk away from this game, I can look at the man in the mirror and be proud I gave everything I could to this game, this organization, my teammates.  Once again, I just want to say thank you.

But he won’t be leaving the game completely; he’ll be taking up a position within the organization, which I think is an excellent move.  To be a good catcher, one must inherently possess the ability to maintain a working knowledge of all aspects of the game, not just his own position.  This plus the fact that he was a captain for seven of the fifteen seasons he played here make him an obvious choice for hire.

What’s funny is that a fan took a video during a clubhouse tour on Truck Day and saw that Tek’s nameplate had already been taken down.  Lucchino’s explanation for this was weak, and so the fan already knew what would happen.  What I liked best about this story is that the fan specifically didn’t post the video until after Tek made his decision.

Bobby V. has banned alcohol in the clubhouse and on charter flights returning to Boston.  Tito then claimed that this was a PR move, which it isn’t since Bobby V. is known for having similarly banned beer in his previous managerial stints.  First of all, it’s very unlike Tito to get involved in drama.  Secondly, why are we still talking about this? Last season is last season; it’s done and over.  Can’t we just move on already?

Maybe that’s what Bobby V. was trying to do when he put down Derek Jeter and praised Tek for the A-Rod fight this week.  It certainly did draw attention.  Obviously I agree with what he said; it’s just a little unusual to hear it coming from a manager.  There’s a reason why there are fans and managers and why fans are usually not managers and managers are usually not fans.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of the biggest Yankee-haters out there, but I still want a manager who focuses less on the TV cameras and more on the baseball.

In the interest of not discussing drama anymore, let’s move to the Spring Training schedule, which officially started yesterday when we played Northeastern and Boston College in a doubleheader.  Today, the Major League action begins with the start of a two-game series against the Twins.  We’ve got the O’s on Tuesday, the Jays on Wednesday, and the Cards on Thursday.  Then the Pirates and Rays, and we’re done for the week.

Here are some highlights from the results.  We swept the college doubleheader as well as the two games against the Twins with scores of 8-3 and 10-2.  Lester pitched two shutout innings against Northeastern.  Beckett pitched two scoreless innings; he walked two, struck out none, and was caught by Salty, yet another indicator of the end of an era.  In the 10-2 win, Buccholz pitched two scoreless innings; he walked two and hit one but struck out two and extricated himself from two sticky situations.  Of his thirty-six pitches, twenty were strikes.  He looks healthy and says he feels healthy.  Ryan Sweeney picked up and RBI, and Papi hit his first homer of Spring Training, a solo shot.

Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association have agreed to expand the playoffs, effective this season.  Each league will not send not one but two Wild Card teams to the playoffs; the two teams will have to go at it in a single elimination game.  This is the first playoff expansion since 1994, and it creates the largest playoffs in the history of the Majors.  It’ll certainly boost ratings and nail-biting, that’s for sure.  It presents a double-edged sword.  If this system had been in place earlier, we would have made the playoffs in the last two years.  On the other hand, I don’t want to make the playoffs because the bar is continually set lower by a policy of increased inclusivity, and there’s always the chance that that other team is going to beat you before you get anywhere.

In other news, the B’s lost to the Sens, Isles, and Rangers but beat the Devils and signed Marty Turco.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Photo/Chris Lee

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Alomar is officially out.  Technically Lovullo is still in contention, but a second interview has yet to be scheduled, and that appears unlikely since Lamont is coming back for a second interview.  And of course we have Valentine to deal with.  Something of note is that Ben and the front office introduced Sveum to the brass.  Ben and the front office did not introduce Valentine to the brass.  The brass introduced Valentine to Ben and the front office.  Obviously that says something about who’s in the driver’s seat when it comes to Valentine.

Ben made some internal promotions, although obviously none to manager quite yet.  Mike Hazen, who’s run our farm system since 2006, is now Ben’s assistant GM.  Brian O’Halloran, a veteran of the organization, was promoted to Assistant VP of Baseball Operations last spring and is now the other assistant GM.  There were also several promotions in the departments of player personnel, Major League operations, player development, and scouting.

Ben also offered arbitration to Papi and Wheeler.

Justin Verlander stole Ellsbury’s MVP award.  Make no mistake.  Verlander may have the hardware, but Ellsbury was really the Most Valuable Player in every sense of the phrase.  He was absolutely brilliant.  I don’t care if the writers voted him in second place.  He finished the season with a .321 average, thirty-two home runs, 105 RBIs, fifty-two walks, thirty-nine steals, and a perfect fielding percentage of 1.  In fact, he hasn’t made an error since 2009.  That sounds like an MVP to me.  At least he was the top position player on the ballot.

Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association have signed a five-year deal.  It includes mandatory HGH testing, an even fifteen teams in both leagues by the 2013 season, more Wild Card teams and playoff rounds, expanded instant replay, and a worldwide draft by the 2014 season.  Everything seems good to me except the playoff and Wild Card expansions, which seem iffy.  The playoffs are already enormous, and the playoffs are supposed to mean something.  Do I wish that we made the playoffs every single year? Absolutely.  But I don’t want to increase our probability of losing and exhaustion if we do.  Plus, aren’t the playoffs supposed to mean something?

In other news, the Pats absolutely buried the Chiefs under their copious badness, 34-3.  It was a cakewalk.  The B’s had to eke out all of their wins this week.  We squeaked past the Habs, 1-0, and we bested the Sabres, 4-3, in a shootout.  The Red Wings snapped our winning streak at ten in a shootout, but we ended on a high note by besting the Jets.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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