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Posts Tagged ‘Xavier Bogaerts’

Yes.  Oh, yes.  We are off to a mighty good start.  This is exactly where we want to be: right out on top.  I can’t be the only one sensing some familiarity with this whole situation.  So much time has passed, and so much has happened since then.  We are a completely different team now in innumerable ways.  But we are good.  And we can do this.

So the first game of the World Series is in the bag.  Oh, yes, it is indeed good to be back.

We started out very solidly.  Ellsbury led off the first with a walk.  Victorino lined out, Pedroia singled, and Papi reached on a force attempt with a little help from a missed catch to load the bases.  And then Napoli hit a bases-clearing double.  That was the best outcome short of a grand slam.  Three runs on one swing, and he looked really comfortable executing that hit.  Excellent.

Drew and Ross hit back-to-back singles to lead off the second.  Then Ellsbury flied out and Victorino reached on a fielding error to load the bases.  Drew scored on a single by Pedroia.  That’s not exactly the big response to a bases-loaded situation I was hoping for, but it’s better than nothing, especially since that run increased our lead to four and since Papi followed it up with a sac fly that scored one more.

We took a long break before resuming our scoring in the seventh with some long ball.  The Cards made three pitching changes in that inning alone; they made the third one after Pedroia reached on a throwing error.  And then Papi welcomed the new pitcher by homering on his very first pitch.  He hit it all the way out to right center field.  It was a massive home run.  It was beautiful.  As was the insurance we added in the eighth, when Nava doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sac fly by Bogaerts.

For Lester, it was a great performance.  He had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth but grounded into a double play.  That was the worst of it, and he didn’t even allow a single run.  He was quite the laborer; he was really committed to keeping his head down and grinding through.  This is the great thing about Lester.  Even when it’s not easy for him, he still manages to make it work.

He very nearly went the distance, too.  Two outs into the eighth, he was relieved by Tazawa, who ended the eighth.  Dempster pitched the ninth.  Together, our staff almost pitched a shoutout; Dempster proved to be the undoing when he gave up a solo shot on his fourth pitch.  But aside from allowing a single, he put the Cards away after that.

And that was a wrap.  Game one is done, 8-1.  We now lead the series.  I want it.  Let’s get it.

In other news, the Pats dropped a painfully close one to the Jets, 30-27.

AP Photo
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Oh, man.  Wow.  Wow, wow, wow.

We’ve done it again! I can’t believe it! I mean, I can believe it.  I saw it with my own eyes, and I can believe it, but it was absolutely awesome.  This time last year, we were getting ready for a long offseason.

This time this year, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to the World Series! Detroit is officially taken care of, and we are moving on to the world championship.  Oh, man.  It’s so great to be back.  And we’ll be playing the Cardinals.  Rematch? Yes, please.

This was yet another close one.  We were the first to score.  In the fifth.  With two out, Bogaerts doubled and scored on a single by Ellsbury.

Meanwhile, Buchholz wasn’t immaculate, but he was dominant.  It was great.  He maintained his command and control and just mowed right through.  Until the sixth.  He gave up a walk and a single, and then he was replaced by Morales.  His final line read five innings and two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.  Ordinarly, two runs would be a great result.  But we needed something even better.

Morales then gave up our lead.  He issued another walk to load the bases with nobody out, and then he gave up a single that scored two.  Workman couldn’t have come in at a better time; he induced a double play to end the inning.  The fielding on that play, by the way, was textbook.

Workman induced a flyout to lead off the seventh, but then he gave up two singles and loaded the bases when he made a fielding error.  Then it was Tazawa’s turn; he ended the inning on a groundout.

So the situation was really only stressful for the bottom of the sixth, when we didn’t score, and the top of the seventh, when we were waiting for another chance to score.  And we got it.  And we took advantage of it.  Majorly.

Gomes led it off with a double, Drew struck out, Bogaerts walked, Detroit made a pitching change, and Ellsbury reached on a force attempt thanks to a fielding error to load the bases.

And once again, I have to say, I don’t know.  I don’t know how it works.  It must be the air here.  I think it also had to do with the fact that we were back home.  Being home does that too.  And maybe also the fact that Bill Mueller threw out the first pitch.  And it just happened.  It’s like magic.  It’s the magic of good baseball players playing good baseball.  Or something.  I don’t know.  I really don’t.

Victorino stepped up to the plate.  He took a curveball for a strike and fouled off another one.  And then he got another one.  They were all the same pitch around the same speed.  But that third one, he read like a book.  Really.  He powered up big time and sent that ball all the way out toward the Monster.  Four runs on one swing.  It was absolutely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  With that grand slam, we got ourselves a three-run lead.

Breslow pitched a one-two-three eighth, and Uehara owned the ninth as usual.  Cue mob.  Uehara basically summed it up.  5-2.

Alright.  It’s not over yet.  We’ve still got plenty of work to do.  I’ve been hungry, and I’m ready.  I like being American League Champions, but I’m ready for the Cards and the World Series.  Let’s go get it.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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Yet another close one.  But I took issue with this one because it didn’t have to be so close.  At one point, we had more than a one-run lead; it wasn’t much more, but in close games, every run counts.  This particular contest happened to end well, but it was not exactly a high point for our pitching staff.  We managed to just slide by, and now Detroit is facing elimination.

We got on the board early, which I was obviously very happy to see.  We scored three runs in the second.  Napoli hit the inning’s fifth pitch for a huge home run; the count was 3-1, and he got a four-seam and read it like a book, sending the ball all the way out to center field.  It was huge, and it started what was obviously a very important rally.  Gomes then reached on a fielding error, and Bogaerts doubled after Drew struck out; both ended up scoring, Gomes on a double by Ross and Bogaerts on a single by Ellsbury.

Then Napoli doubled in the third and scored on a wild pitch by Drew.

Meanwhile, Lester did a great job.  He had his share of baserunners, and he came close to squandering our lead.  He gave up a run thanks to a single-single combination in the fifth.  And another run thanks to a walk-single combination in the sixth.  Actually he gave up a walk and a single en route to recording the inning’s first out, the RBI single itself was given up by Tazawa.  And he gave up another run thanks to two singles and a double play in the seventh, which brought our lead down to one.  That was when Breslow came on.  He pitched through the first out of the eighth, and then Uehara took over.

So Lester’s outing wasn’t one of those breezy starts.  It was a grind.  You could tell that it was a grind.  Like I said, he had his share of baserunners, and he was really laboring through it.  And he wasn’t exactly backed up by an airtight relief corps this time around.  But we managed to hold on, so we reestablished our series lead after winning, 4-3.

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I guess Detroit got mad.  Like, really mad.  One of the reasons why the games have been so close is because we’ve sent out some seriously awesome pitching.  But we didn’t have it last night.  Last night, it was absolutely awful.

Peavy had them down for the first and then gave up five in the second inning alone.

He gave up a single and two consecutive walks to load the bases with nobody out.  Then he induced a flyout and allowed the game’s first run using one of the more humiliating methods: the bases-loaded walk.  He then induced a force out that scored another run, and he gave up a two-run double and an RBI single.  It was pretty ugly.

And it got worse in the fourth.  He gave up a double followed by an RBI single.  Then Workman came on, ending a bizarrely horrid outing by Peavy.  I was not expecting this.  Peavy has been very impressive, and all of a sudden he just wasn’t himself.

Anyway, Workman recorded the inning’s first two outs and then gave up another RBI single.

Meanwhile, our offense was coming up short.  We had baserunners, so it’s not like we had no opportunities.  We just couldn’t come up with any timely hits.

Until the sixth.  Papi flied out to lead it off, and then Napoli, Nava, and Salty hit three straight singles that scored one run.  Then Ellsbury led off the seventh with a single and scored on a double by Victorino.  And then Bogaerts doubled to lead off the ninth and scored on a triple by Ellsbury.

Needless to say, it wasn’t enough.  We were away, so we’d have had to at least tie it, and we most definitely did not.  The relief corps did a great job; Dempster pitched the sixth, and Morales pitched the seventh.  Doubront pitched the eighth.  And we lost, 7-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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That was not exactly the series start that I had in mind.  Not even remotely.  That was one of the closest games I’ve ever seen in October.  Uncomfortably close.  And, because we lost, crushingly close.  Seriously.  Our offense was completely silenced to an embarrassing, unacceptable, and baffling degree.

Lester delivered a great start.  Really, our whole pitching staff pulled it together and delivered the best start they could deliver under these conditions, namely, no run support whatsoever.  Lester pitched six and one-third innings and gave up six hits, one walk, and one run.  He struck out four.

He faced the minimum in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings.  He gave up two singles in the first and his one run in the sixth.  He induced a groundout to start it off and then issued a walk, hit a batter, recorded a force out, and then gave up an RBI single.  The runner had been able to move to third on the force out, so at least we got an out out of it.  I always say that if you have to give up a run, you may as well try your best to get something out of the situation as well.  He was lifted after he induced a lineout and hit a batter in the seventh.

Tazawa pitched the last two outs of the seventh, Breslow pitched the eighth, and Uehara pitched the ninth.

Meanwhile, and this is the really painful part, not only were we completely shut out, but we were also almost no-hit.  That’s right.  We managed only one hit all night.  That hit belonged to Nava.

We had two on in the first thanks to a wild pitch and a walk.  We walked twice in the second.  We went down in order in the third, fourth, and fifth.  We walked three times in the sixth and had the bases loaded with two out.  We went down in order in the seventh and eighth.  And Nava broke up the no-hitter in the ninth when he singled with one out.

If Bogaerts had come up with the right type of hit after that, we could have walked away winners.  All he managed was a popout on a full count.

Needless to say, when Nava recorded that hit, I was immensely relieved.  It’s bad enough to lose.  It’s worse to lose in the playoffs and even worse to lose the first game of the ALCS, especially if it’s at home, which is your prime opportunity to get wins in.  And it’s worse to provide no run support whatsoever, although we can at least feel good about the fact that our pitchers did a ridiculously awesome job of keeping us in the game the whole time.  I mean, it’s not easy to hold the opposition to only one run for an entire game.  Then again, it’s even harder to hold the opposition to no runs for an entire game, which is what Detroit managed to accomplish.

But let the record show that we were not no-hit.  No, we most definitely were not.  We didn’t get our hit until the ninth inning, but we got it in the end.  This was the first time a postseason no-hitter was destroyed in the ninth inning since 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers did it against the Yanks.  Unlike us, however, the Dodgers ended up winning that game.  Anyway, between the fact that we thwarted their bid and the fact that we ourselves held them to only one run, we can retain our dignity with our heads held high.  It should also be noted that it wasn’t just one pitcher working against us; the Tigers trotted out a good number.

We did walk six times.  But we went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.  With a final score like 1-0, it could have been anyone’s game.  Unfortunately, Lester happened to crack first.  It’s obviously true that it could have been possible for him not to crack first or not to crack at all.  But it’s hard to do much better than that.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially American League Division Champions! One series down, two more to go! We are a strong team.  We are a really strong team, and we should feel very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.  But I have to say, I’m still hungry, so I’m psyched to keep it going.

Peavy was an absolute master.  The game was tied at zero until the sixth inning.  Peavy was just mowing right through the Rays’ lineup like they were minor leaguers.  It was awesome.

Except for the fact that it was Peavy who cracked first.  It was a double-single combination.  And we didn’t have answer for it.  I just can’t believe we actually lost a playoff game with a final score of 1-0.  That’s rough.  And the series could have been tied.

Breslow came on for the inning’s last out. If it were not for the seventh inning, during which Gomes flied out, Bogaerts walked, Middlebrooks struck out, Ellsbury singled, and between a steal, a wild pitch, and a single, Bogaerts and Ellsbury both scored.  And we took the lead.  Just like that.

Tazawa replaced Breslow one out and one single into the eighth.  We added insurance in the ninth thanks to two walks, a hit batsman, and a sac fly.

And so the final score was 3-1.  Think about how close we were to having the series tied at two.  And then think about how the relief corps and the offense rallied to keep that from happening.  Now the Rays are eliminated and we’re moving on to the ALCS.  Life is good.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Okay.  It’s no big deal.  I mean, it better not turn into a big deal.  Just because the Rays managed to stave off elimination doesn’t mean that this whole thing is going to be a disaster.  Granted, I really would have liked to wrap this up already, but the extra playing time can’t hurt.  Still, I want to get this done.

This was just a close game all around.  We scored first; Ellsbury led off the game with a single and came home when Pedroia batted into a force out.  Then both teams went one-two-three in the second and third, and both teams had opportunities to score in the fourth, of which they did not take advantage.  Ellsbury doubled in the fifth and scored on a wild pitch to make it two-zip.

Buchholz gave up his first run in the bottom of the fifth; en route to securing the inning’s first two outs, he gave up a single and a double, and then he made a mistake that resulted in a three-run home run.  In total, Buchholz gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings while walking three and striking out five.  So that was really the only blemish of his performance, and it tied the game at three.

Neither team scored again until the eighth.  The sixth had been Buchholz’s last inning; Breslow and Tazawa pitched the seventh, and Morales and Workman pitched the eighth, during which the Rays edged ahead by one run.  This should not have been the case, because we had plenty of opportunities ourselves to score, but Morales opened the inning with a walk that turned into a run two singles and a popout later on a groundout.

Things were looking up in the ninth, when Pedroia managed to tie the game at four; Middlebrooks led off the inning with a walk, and Bogaerts came in to pinch-run.  Bogaerts scored when Pedroia grounded out, which at the time was critically important.

I thought we would hold out and settle it in extras.  Instead, Uehara came on for the ninth, and with the Rays two strikes away from playoff elimination, they came back to win it with a walkoff solo shot.  It was absolutely awful.  It was really crushing.  I mean, we were so close.  We were so close to putting them away, or at least to setting the stage for us putting them away.  The Rays are still down to elimination, but it was just really awful to see them come back like that.  The final score was 5-4.

In other news, the Pats dropped one to the Bengals, 13-6.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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