Tagged: Takashi Saito

Offense 101

If I were to ever find myself in a position of teaching baseball offense to someone, I think I would use last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game as a model for my class.

Baseball is a game where scoring is pretty unpredictable. It’s very hard to know when there’s going to be a shutout,  or when, like last night, a team is going to score 20 runs. Offense can sometimes be misinterpreted due to this. Just because a team loses 2-1, it doesn’t mean that their offense wasn’t working. They clearly weren’t at their best, but who’s saying they didn’t leave the bases loaded in every inning? They failed to produce, but I think that loading the bases still counts for some sort of offense.

Because games like that (stranding the bases loaded so much) are rare, I would probably choose a clear offensive game for any example in my “class”.

Last night, was an unbelieveably clear, offensive game. Our starter, Brad Penny, left the game after 4 innings, already having allowed 8 runs. There is an ongoing problem with Penny that was clearly shown here. I’ll let you take a guess as to what this problem is with the help of this stat- He threw 89 pitches through 4 innings last night.

Yeah, Mr. Penny throws far too many pitches and therefore wears himself out ridiculously soon in the game. Sorry, but this is not the guy we want starting off a series like this.

Brad Penny wiped sweat from his face after the third run scored for the Yankees.

Our relievers didn’t fare much better against the torrent of hits the Yankees were bringing upon us. Michael Bowden came in and let up 7 runs in 2 innings, even worse (if you can believe it) than Penny had done.

Surprisingly, Takashi Saito, one of our relievers that has really struggled this season, produced one of the few really good innings in the game, allowing no hits and no runs while striking out one.

The lead just kept building, even as our offense began to FINALLY produce. We scored 10 runs in the last 5 innings of the game, but the Yankees, already leading 6-1 before this point, scored 14 runs to match that. While 14-10 might have been a decent game for us, because of those early innings, the score was actually 20-11. Yes, 20 runs. The most the Yankees have ever scored against us.

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira celebrated at the plate after both scored on a single by Jorge Posada in the first.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Yankees have one of the best offenses I’ve ever seen live. And as much as I wish it wasn’t true, they are (right now) just about the best possible example on how to run a baseball offense. They can hit (23 hits in the game), they hustle (8 doubles and a triple), they score (20 runs), and they wear a pitcher down (see “Brad Penny”).

Now before I get carried away, I’m going to have to stop getting so enthralled by the Yankee offense. And what can do this for me? A little Red Sox offense, please…

Kevin Youkillis welcomed Ellsbury home as he scored a ball hit by Victor Martinez in the first.

The Red Sox offense wasn’t so bad. Against most other teams, 11 runs wins a game. Lowell went 3-5, Pedroia went 2-5, and Ortiz went 2-4. Our offense was not nonexistent. It was just dwarfed by the superior offense of the Bronx Bombers. That pretty much spells out what we need to do tonight. We have to turn up the bats, crank off some hits, and outhit, outrun, and outscore the Yankees. I’m pretty sure that’ll lead to a win.

All this is not to say that the game didn’t have it’s bright points. Jerry Remy was back in the booth after an ongoing struggle with depression and lung cancer. Remy is my favorite broadcaster of all time, without a doubt, and I can’t even say how happy I am to see the man doing well and back doing what he is so good at.

Jerry Remy waved to the crowd from the broadcast booth after a standing ovation in the third inning.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only one overjoyed to see the RemDawg back in business.

Ryan Drohan, John Porter, Jake Munroe, and Brian Brolin, all from the Roy Moore Lobster Company in Rockport, went beyond sign making in paying tribute to Jerry Remy. And the back of the shirts spelled D-A-W-G.

At the end of the night, about the only thing left standing at Fenway was this sign welcoming back broadcaster Jerry Remy.

Lorriann Watson, from Clinton, Maine, wanted to make sure Dennis Eckersley got a shout in with all the Jerry Remy hoopla going on. Missing from Watson's sign was any acknowledgment of the color commentary work done by Frank Viola during Remy's absence.

Not sure if we mentioned that there were a few signs welcoming back Jerry Remy at Fenway Park on Friday night. The crew from Randolph brought this one along.

There were so many 'Welcome back Jerry Remy' signs that this young fan resorted to neon green in order to stand out in the crowd.

The pictures go on…

It is great to see so much love and happiness in the stands for Remy. He deserves it!

Also, in the 1st inning, Jacoby Ellsbury stole 2nd base to tie Tommy Harper’s Red Sox record of stolen bases in a season, at 54.

Ellsbury stole second base in the first inning to tie Tommy Harper's Red Sox record of 54 stolen bases in a season, as the ball bounced in front of Robinson Cano.

Jacoby is an ABSOLUTE speedster!

We know what we have to do. We can’t let this lead keep growing bigger and bigger. Now is the time to win! I still believe that we are as good as the Yankees, let’s prove it! So tonight, let’s duplicate the Yankees’ success and lead an offensive outburst of our own! GO SOX!! 

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My prayer was answered…(with a little icing on  top)

Yesterday in my blog I complained about the Red Sox’ inability to win games when they’re on the line as of late. Takashi Saito wasn’t able to hold our opponents in 2 recent games, and we paid for it.

Today, thankfully, my call was answered with a huge win for the Sox, and the score was close again in the 7th. It was 4-3 Mariners, as they had gotten a huge boost in the 4th when Ronny Cedeno hit a bases clearing triple off Jon Lester. Lester called upon his strength and grit today, throwing 122 pitches in 6.2 innings, 82 of them for strikes. Aside from the 3rd, Lester pitched strongly, and the 3 runs allowed in that inning were unearned.

Trailing by one, the Red Sox faced Miguel Batista in the bottom of the 7th. With 2 out and men on 1st and 2nd, David Ortiz came up to bat. He had already homered in the 1st inning, and was looking to tie the game up. He rapped a single to right, and just like that we had tied the game.

You can imagine my joy that we hadn’t blown it in the late innings, instead we had come back. That’s right, we didn’t surrender a huge lead or end up losing a tie game in the 9th. We came back in the 7th, and ended up absolutely putting the game away, scoring 5 runs in that inning.

It was a well deserved and rejuvenating (did I spell that right?) win for Red Sox Nation and for the team. I felt like my prayer had been answered.

But then the gifts just kept on pouring in. First, it struck me that Big Papi had gone 2-4, and most importantly, he had batted in the tying run that sparked the huge 2 out rally in the 7th. That’s just the kind of game a guy needs to get back on track.

Second of all, I found out that Tim Wakefield had made the AL All Star team for the first time in his career. Wake has been a well loved and very dedicated player on the Red Sox for most of his career, and this was the perfect way to top off a great first half (of a season that will most likely be one of his last). He totally deserved it, and just seeing Wakefield’s name on there made the 5 other Red Sox names on the All Star team all the more worth it.

Thanks for reading. 

Red Sox late inning woes continue…

It was an absolutely perfect day for a baseball game. The sun wasn’t glaring and the air was calm and not humid. Large, slowly drifting clouds swept lazily across the clear blue sky. It was not only perfect for a baseball game, it was also a perfect day to celebrate the 4th of July.

The Red Sox would take on the Seattle Mariners at 1:05 PM, and I had plans to sit back and watch the game with my old friend visiting from overseas. We were driving back from meeting him in Brookline when my dad got a call. Our neighbor, a season ticket holder, had just found out about some plans that would interfere with him attending the game at Fenway. My friend and I suddenly had tickets to the Red Sox game. Here we were, in Brookline, driving along at a leisurely pace and just enjoying the day. All of a sudden it was a mad rush to get the tickets back at home, and race back out to the ballpark. It was 12:30.

We arrived at Fenway before the first pitch, and got to our seats in less than a minute. It was a lot easier finding them than it had been for me in the past. A cool breeze was flowing through the stands when we sat down, and it continued through the game. We sat down with a great view of the field, in section 23. Section 23 is behind home plate about 30 or so rows back and to the left a little from a fan’s point of view. I was overjoyed to be back in Fenway, as it was my first game this year.

Here is a view from the section we were in (I didn’t take this picture):

 

Then, abruptly, the game started. The pitching matchup was Brad Penny vs. Garrett Olson. Nick Green was taking a well earned day off after his clutch double last night nearly won the game for us. Julio Lugo was in his place in the lineup.

The game began hopefully for Penny, as he struck out the first two batters he faced. Then Jose Lopez hit a long single off the center field wall, and there was life for the Mariners. However, the inning ended without damage. However, it took Penny 15 pitches to get through the first, a first sign that he would throw 100+ pitches once again in this one.

In the 2nd, Jason Varitek connected with an Olson pitch and went deep over the monster for a 2 run homerun, putting the Sox on the board first. I thought it was cool that Tek’s walk up song was “Kryptonite,” by 3 Doors Down, a song that mentions Superman. Varitek is almost like a Superman figure for the Sox: tough, team captain, leader, enforcer, etc. He also came to the rescue like Superman today, giving the Sox their only runs in the game.

The atmosphere in Fenway was terrific. At one point we got the wave to go around 6 or 7 times.

 

Everyone was on their feet after the V-Tek homerun, aside from a few Mariners fans sitting behind us. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Papelbon today, and I love watching him pitch, but I did see Masterson come in for relief. I realized that my own pitching motion (I pitched a few times last year for my team) was very similar to Masterson’s, so it was cool to see him.

 

One of my alltime favorite songs, a 4th of July classic, played on the speakers during the game:

“Saturday in the park
I think it was the fourth of july
Saturday in the park
I think it was the fourth of july
People dancing, people laughing…”

Yeah, you know it. “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago.

Okay, back to the game. The Mariners finally tied the game up in the 5th when, after singling to begin the inning, Chris Woodward was bunted over by Ronny Cedeno and later scored. 

The inning before, I had sensed trouble with Penny. In the 4th he had walked two straight batters with 2 men out, to put himself in a jam that really shouldn’t have even happened.

Penny was taken out of the game in the 7th with the game tied 2-2. Both Masterson and Hideki Okajima pitched strong, and we got through the 7th and 8th innings without damage. Takashi Saito came in to keep the game in our hands and send it to extras. He promptly walked three men to load the bases with only 1 out. Chris Woodward hit a bloop single in to shallow right field a little behind first base. Pedroia came on strong and reached for it but it dropped just inches from his glove, scoring a run. Saito barely got out of the inning after that, and the Sox were silenced in our half of the 9th.

When will these late inning troubles end?! Our past 4 games have all been decided in the late innings, one of them in extras. We have lost 3 of these 4, and won the one game by only 1 run. Even worse, Takashi Saito has taken the loss in 2 of those 3 games, raising his ERA from 2.96 on June 28 to 3.45 today.

We have got to find a more reliable guy then Saito, or at least get him out of this funk. Let’s get the job done in the late innings. Go Sox! 

Final Box Score:

   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   R   H   E 
Seattle
0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1   3 7 1
Boston
0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   2 4 0

 

Thanks for reading and happy 4th of July!

All stats from mlb.com