5/17/07 vs Detroit
A good ending to a real good day. Julian, Oki, and Paps were phenomenal in game 1 and with Erik Hinske in the field and at the plate, combined with yet another stellar performance by the pen, we do the improbable and sweep a double header. I still think it’s one of the hardest things to do during a season regardless of who you are playing.
Weather turned nasty the last few days and it’s early April in Fenway all over again. Seems that most times it gets cold and windy around here the wind tends to blow in from right. Certainly the case in game two and that would turn out to be a big deal.
Felt really good in the bullpen, better than I have in awhile. Fastball command was better for sure and it was something John and I had really focused on over the past 5 days.
First pitch of the game and there’s a runner on second…. Fastball middle away that Granderson flies to left center on and the ball drops in for a double. I would have bet big money that ball was being caught but it really didn’t hit me that the wind was severely affecting fly balls as much as it was until an inning or two later.
We then get ahead of Polanco 0-2. After a miss we come in and instead of making something happen I hit him. Sheff takes a fastball in for strike one, then fouls another fastball in to go 0-2. I throw a split that I know he’s not going to offer at and he then fouls off a slider and a fastball away to keep it 1-2. Tek goes front door slider, which I wasn’t expecting, and it comes back over the inside corner to freeze him for strike three.
I miss badly to Maglio to go 3-0, then come back to make it a full count and just miss with a fastball to load the bases with my first of four walks on the day. Bruce Dreckman had the plate today and I have not had him in a long time. What I had on him turned out to be real close as he was consistent pretty much all day long. Nothing really off the plate to either side and more high strikes than low ones. All in all I’d love to blame any of the four walks on him missing pitches but he didn’t.
I then go 3-0 on Carlos Guillen, missing badly with all three pitches. We get the count back to full and get him to swing and miss on a 3-2 fastball away.
Sean Casey (arguably the nicest human being walking this planet) takes a fastball middle for strike one. I miss in with a cutter, and anther ball puts the count at 2-1. Tek calls fastball in, good call imo, and I haven’t seen the replay yet but I thought I got it in. Either way Sean absolutely crushes the pitch. Off the bat I am thinking grand slam. Almost immediately followed by the realization that it’s extremely bad hitting weather and the wind is howling in from right field. Eric gets to the wall and comes in a step to make the catch and end the inning.
I’d like to see some stats on how many times, prior to this year, I’ve gone 3-0 on hitters as compared to this year. I can’t remember anything even remotely close to what’s happened so far. It takes me 30 pitches to get out of the first and only the weather has kept this game 0-0.
Second inning starts off with Marcus Thames running up an 8 pitch AB that ends with a pop up to first. I start Rabelo off with a curve ball strike, followed by a curve ball down that he chases for strike two. I throw a split that is popped up to right, and on the replay I can see him toss his bat, mad about the result. I know about a millisecond later that things aren’t looking good as Eric is chasing the ball back towards the infield. The ball drops in for a single. Inge goes down on a 1-2 split for the second out.
I then throw 8 balls in the next 9 pitches to load the bases. When someone as aggressive as Polanco is not even offering at balls I know my command is lacking in a big way. Two innings, now 53 pitches in, and the bases are drunk for
Sheffield. The numbers over our career might give me an edge statistically but
Gary is absolutely one of the top 5 hitters I’ve ever faced. The power and average are one thing, but the fact that he strikes out so few times per at bat is something I’ve never been able to figure out. He’s got the violent setup and bat waggle, and a swing that is anything but soft, yet he can make contact and drive just about any pitch as well as anyone I’ve ever faced. I’ll take the power guys, and the average guys, if you know the areas you can make them swing and miss. He doesn’t have one spot in any zone that you know he can’t handle.
For the second AB in row we get him looking at a fastball in for a strike. Tek calls for a split which we end up getting down in the zone and Sheff grounds to Mike at 3rd to end the inning.
Two innings, six baserunners, 55 pitches. I’m not getting through four at this pace and I am walking the tightrope in limiting damage.
Third inning starts with Magglio popping a fly ball to right that I know is trouble off the bat. He doesn’t hit it good enough to get it to deeper RF and get caught, instead he hits a 2-1 slider just inside the line to right for a double. Now 7 baserunners and the only hard hit ball up to this point was the last out of the first inning. We quickly get Guillen into an 0-2 hole and Tek calls curve ball. Not what I was expecting but the perfect call in this spot if I can bounce it. I don’t. I am not sure how up it was, but it was enough as he hits a ground rule double to deep right and ties the game at one.
I need to manage the game in a hurry. We get Sean to ground to short on a 1-1 split and
Thames goes down swinging on an 0-2 fastball away for the second out. Youk fields Rabelo’s grounder on an 0-1 split and we somehow manage to get through this one giving up just the single run.
The first pitch of the fourth was the one sitting on my brain as I was taken out of the game after the sixth. I’ve had pretty decent success up to this point with Brandon Inge and I am not sure why I did what I did. In the end when I went back to look at it, it didn’t matter what the call was because I threw the pitch knee high in the middle of the plate and he can hit fastballs with anyone. He crushed it to left and the ball just inched over the top of the monster to hit the little railing on top. Unfortunately the umpires convened and got the call right. I was thinking about arguing but realized it would be pointless and probably stupid to argue a call that went against us, even if they got it right.
Granderson runs a full count and Tek calls fastball in, and we make the pitch to get the first out. Polanco hits an inside cutter down the line at third for a double on a 2-2 pitch. Not sure why the hell I can’t be giving up lousy singles but that’s just not happening. Sheff fouls off a cutter in, takes a slider for a ball and then pops a fastball middle away to Tek for the second out. Ordonez takes a strike, fouls a split and then hits a fastball in to center to end the inning.
Holy crap. Four innings, 88 pitches.
Guillen starts the fifth off with another extra base hit. I leave a fastball over the heart of the plate and he lines a double to right center. Sean makes the first out on an 0-2 split that ends up an F-9. He hits it good enough to get the runner to third which was the one thing I was trying to prevent. Pop up, grounder to the left side, K, anything but a ball that advances the runner. Now I need a pop up, K or something that will keep Guillen at third. Fortunately he grounds a 1-1 split to Mike who comes home and after a few throws back and forth we get Guillen out.
What happens next is a highlight play that I think we’ll be watching 15 years from now on every baseball highlight film ever made from this day forward. Rabelo takes a split for ball one and then hits a hanging 1-0 split hard and far down the right field line. My only hope when I saw the ball in mid flight was that it stayed in the park. When I realized it was going to I was hoping it would bounce into the stands. I never in a million years saw Eric catching that ball. By far one of the best catches anyone will ever make and in the end I think it was the play that won this game for us on the defensive side of the ball.
The sixth starts with the sixth 3 ball count to a hitter. Inge runs the count full and ends up swinging through a 3-2 fastball away. Another double on a 1-0 fastball puts Granderson at second and then I issue my fourth walk of the game. I know I am well over 100 pitches and very close to getting yanked from this game if I don’t make some pitches real quick. John comes out, and says pretty much exactly what I needed to hear. We go 0-2 on Sheff and get a fly ball to right for the second out and end up getting Magglio to ground to second on a 2-2 fastball away to end the inning.
Our half of the sixth sees us tie the game after Alex has another fantastic AB and beats out an infield single and then Eric caps off his day by crushing a ball off Ledezma over our bullpen.
After I came out it was Donnelly to Lopez to Okajima for a lights out last three and a sweep.
This game was probably as weird and as frustrating as any game I’ve thrown in the last four years. So many odd and little things happened but in the end we hang on so it makes these next four days go by a lot smoother.
Next up is
Atlanta for the weekend and then on to Yankee stadium. Should be an interesting 6 day stretch for us.