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Posts Tagged ‘Will Middlebrooks’

Welcome back, Jacoby Ellsbury! And just in time, too.  I’m telling you, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.  We’ve played so well without him; imagine what we can do now that he’s back.  He looks comfortable, controlled, and, most importantly, very, very hungry.

Ellsbury hit his seventh pitch, the seventh pitch of the game, for a single.  Then Victorino singled, Pedroia grounded into a force out, Papi doubled in both of the baserunners, Nava lined out, and Papi scored on a single by Salty.  And with two outs in the third, Nava singled and scored on a double by Salty.

Things got powerful in the fourth when Peavy actually doubled, which was so cool, and Ellsbury walked, and Victorino went yard on a full count with one out.  It was a monster of a home run all the way out to left for three runs.  Salty singled to lead off the fifth, and then Drew doubled, and it was Middlebrooks’s turn to turn it on to right field.  For him, it was a slider, the seventh pitch of the at-bat.

And last but not least, the eighth.  Victorino singled, Pedroia flied out, Snyder got hit, and Nava singled to load the bases.  Salty singled in Victorino to score a run and keep the bases loaded.  Drew popped out, and then Middlebrooks was at it again.  He took a fastabll for a strike, fouled off a curveball and another fastball, and got a curveball that missed.  But Middlebrooks picked up on it and made the Rockies pay.  We were already well on our way to burying the Rockies under a mountain of runs (pun intended).  But when that ball ended up beyond the left field fence, the deal was officially sealed.  Four runs.  One grand slam.  Epic.

Unfortunately, it was kind of an off night for Peavy.  I should say it was kind of a mediocre night for Peavy.  With one out in the second, he gave up a solo shot followed by a lineout, a walk, and an RBI double.  Then in the third, he gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out.  One strikeout later, he gave up a successful sac fly and an RBI single.  He gave up a walk followed by an RBI double in the fifth.

Peavy’s night was over after the sixth; Tazawa pitched the seventh, Breslow pitched the eighth, and Dempster pitched the ninth.  The final score was 15-5, which is the same score with which we won Game Three of the World Series in 2007 except with five more runs for us.

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So, yeah, this wasn’t exactly our finest hour.  I’m not really okay with losing to a National League team in a slugfest, especially if that National League team is the same National League team that we beat when we slugged our way to World Series victory in 2007.  Anyway, we lost, and it was ugly.

Lackey didn’t waste time putting us in a hole.  His third pitch of the game was hit for a solo shot, and two outs and a double later, he gave up an RBI single.  He gave up another solo shot in the third.  And another one in the fifth.

So we spent most of the game down by four.  We didn’t even score a single run until the seventh, and even that was basically a giveaway from the Rockies.  Salty and Drew grounded out, and then Middlebrooks doubled and scored when Bradley reached on a missed catch, with a little help from a throwing error.  But then Bradley was out at home.

But just when we shrunk the deficit from four to three, it more than doubled.  Britton came on for the seventh, but evidently that wasn’t even remotely close to an improvement.  He gave up a double, a single, and a walk to load the bases with nobody out.  Then he gave up a two-run single.  Following a double steal and another two-run single, Morales came on and finished the inning.  De La Rosa pitched the eighth.

We brought our six-run deficit down to four again when Papi singled to lead off the fifth, and Salty went yard on the third pitch, and third four-seam, of the at-bat.  All the way to right center field.  Too bad it basically didn’t even make a dent.

We lost, 8-3.  It was awful and humiliating and just generally very unpleasant.

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At least this series wasn’t a total loss.  In fact, we ended up winning it.  It’s always nice to end a series and a weekend on a high note, especially going into an off day.  This is the third of four off days we have in this month alone, but it’s a nice schedule before heading into the playoffs.  We’ll need to save up a lot now that our season has been extended.

Doubront pitched fantastically, giving up only two runs on four hits in seven innings.  It was great.  He gave up a run in the second thanks to a walk and two singles, and he gave up a solo shot to lead off the fifth and that was it.  Other than that, he looked like he was in complete control of the situation.

Morales, however, did not.  He almost got himself into trouble.  Scratch that; he got himself into trouble and then managed to get himself out of it.  The same can not be said of Uehara, who came on for the ninth and didn’t get himself into trouble in the first place.

We actually were down by one going into the bottom of the second, which Carp led off with a flyout.  Then Nava singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Drew singled, Nava scored on a single by Lavarnway, and then everybody came home on a blast by Bradley on his second pitch of the game, one of two knuckleballs of the at-bat.  He took the first one for a ball and launched the second one beyond the right field fence.

That was it until the sixth, which Papi led off by doing almost the exact same thing.  He went yard on his first pitch, also a knuckleball, which he also deposited beyond the right field fence.

So the final score was 5-2.  Both teams collected six hits each, but you really have to be careful when throwing knuckleballs.  I believe that this game has officially illustrated the following fact: just because you’re a knuckleball pitcher doesn’t mean you’re Tim Wakefield.

By the way, I’m glad Yaz finally has a statue.  It’s about time.

In other news, the Pats absolutely crushed the Bucs, winning 23-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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This was a great game.  We played well and clean.  It just felt really right and natural to be scoring and pitching and winning.  It was just nice.

Pedroia doubled in the first and scored on a wild pitch.  With one out in the third, Nava doubled, and Papi and Napoli both walked.  When Carp drew a third straight walk, Nava came home.  Then we hit four straight singles in the seventh to score another run; Bradley, Pedroia, Nava, Papi, done.  And one double play later, another single by Carp scored two.  As one last statement of victory, Middlebrooks led off the eighth with a single and scored two outs later on a single by Pedroia.

Lester finally cracked in the fifth.  With two out, he gave up one run thanks to a single-single combination plus a two steals thrown in.  In the end, it was just the run in all seven glorious innings he pitched.  He gave up five hits and two walks, and he struck out eight.  And he was fantastic.

Tazawa came on for the seventh and gave up a double followed by a groundout.  Then he gave up a two-run home run.  And then Uehara came on.   And then the game ended and we won, 6-3.

So it was pretty ordinary as wins go, and we’ve been very fortunate this season to have had our fair share of those.  But winning, while awesome, wasn’t even the highlight.

The highlight was that we now officially own the AL East.  That’s right.  One day after clinching our playoff berth, we also clinched the division.  It’s our first division title since 2007, and it’s been a long time.  But if it has to do with 2007, I like it.  It’s ours.  Yes.  Let the champagne rain.  Now that’s what I call winning.  Let’s get this done!

Boston Globe Staff/Essdras M. Suarez

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The second was our big inning.  If by big, I mean three runs.  And I do.  Because we scored three runs.  And it was enough.  Salty doubled, Middlebrooks struck out, and Drew didn’t waste time turning on the power, going yard on his first pitch of the game a cutter clocked at ninety-two miles per hour, which he promptly deposited out of the park.  And then Bradley doubled and scored on a single by Pedroia.

And those were the only three runs we scored in the entire game.  Good thing Lackey was on the ball.

But he wasn’t just on the ball.  He was amazingly epic.  He was insane.  He was ridiculous.

His first walk in the third and his second walk in the sixth were the only blemishes of his performance until he gave up a solo shot with one out in the seventh.

Just take a minute to let that sink in.  That means that those two walks were the only two things standing between him and a bid for a perfect game.  As it was, until that home run, he was well on his way to pitching a no-hitter.  He threw a cutter for a strike to start the at-bat, and then I saw that second cutter leave his hand on the release, and I saw it travel towards the plate, and I just didn’t know what was going to happen.  And then I saw the bat swing through, and I heard that sound.  It was the sound we’re so happy to hear when we’re the ones on the homering end.  But once the ball and the bat collide to make that sound, you know the ball is going out of the park.  And I knew it well before I saw it.  And it was awful, and devastating, and crushing, and unbelievable, even though I saw it play out in my mind before I saw it play out right in front of me.  It was just awful.

I’m proud of Lackey for keeping it together after that.  He didn’t unravel.  He gave up a single in the eighth, and he faced only three in the ninth.

In the end, we won, 3-1.  Lackey went the distance and gave up only one run on just those two hits while walking only two and striking out eight.  I’m proud of Lackey.  But I’m also crushed.  I really thought he had it in the bag.

And by the way, we are now officially in the playoffs.  It is an indisputable scientific fact.  So now it’s fun to look at the standings.  After certain recent seasons, I’ve been kind of wary of doing that, first of all because the standings fluctuate and secondly because, as we painfully know, being in first place at a certain time of the year doesn’t always deliver what it’s supposed to deliver.  But it’s later rather than earlier in September, and ladies and gentlemen, we are going to Soxtober!

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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