5/1/07 vs. Oakland
Win some lose some. Tough loss and a rare one in the way we lost it. As much as you’d like to think that because things are lined up how you want them to be, it should all work out, sometimes it doesn’t.
Our bullpen was the key reason we ended April with the best record in baseball and I don’t doubt for a second it will be a huge strength for us all year long, but even the best bullpens have off nights and last night was one of them.
I know how bad it feels to blow a save so you always feel for the guys down there when it happens because you know no one feels worse than they do.
I know Jason and I went in with a good game plan and for the most part we executed that plan. Always nice to be back in Fenway too, nothing matches the environment.
First inning was a quick one as Stewart popped out to right on a 2-1 slider and Ellis got jammed on a 1-0 fastball for the second out. Eric kept the bat head in the zone on a decent split and hit it harder than I’d planned to center to end the inning.
My slider felt good in the pen, as did my split, and the first few I threw today felt like they were working.
Our offense put a huge three spot on the board in the bottom of the first. Amazing how it works sometimes. The hardest hit ball of the inning was Manny’s fly out. We blooped and bled our way to three runs against a guy who’s turned into a very solid big league pitcher. I faced Joe here last year and he beat me by shutting us down for 7-8 innings and he was coming off a great start the other day as well. He mixes his stuff up and seems to have great command of his fastball to go along with a very good hook and change he mixes in.
Second inning starts with Mike chasing a split for strike three. We freeze Johnson on a fastball in for the second out. I hang my first split of the day and Bobby hits a hard single to left. Had the whole AB setup to get him to chase one in the dirt but I didn’t get the ball to bite and paid. Travis hits another split for what should have been a routine ground ball out to second. The main problem there was that about 10 seconds before I threw the pitch I moved Dustin more into the hole and the ball ends up being a single because of that. I fall behind Jason and then run the count full, the key pitch being the 2-1 split he chased. After a short battle he swings and misses at a 3-2 fastball that runs in more than I was trying to make it.
Bottom line though was we scored three and then put up a zero.
Top of the third starts with Langerhans chasing a high fastball. His two AB’s, and the results are a direct tip of the hat to our advance scouts. I had no history with him and hadn’t had a chance to look at any real video before the game so I relied on some face to face pre-game rundowns they gave me and they hit the bullseye in every way. You cannot overestimate the value of truly good advance scouts. At least I can’t. they’ve always been a huge part of what I do to prepare, especially on a night like tonight when I am seeing alot of hitters for the first time. The guys that advance for us are incredibly good and thorough at what they do and it pays off for guys like me who rely on that information to attack lineups with specific game plans.
I want to start Shannon off with a 2 seamer in and end up leaving it up and middle and he singles to left. A fly out to center by Ellis and a pop up by Chavez end the third.
We tack another run on in the bottom of the inning as Youk drives in Coco after the lead off walk. Lead changes from 1-4 runs are huge. From one to two you get breathing room so one mistake won’t kill you. From two to three it’s huge because a mistake or walk won’t bring the tying run to the plate and from three to four is as huge because to squander a four run lead you have to have a nightmarish inning which is something we should really not see a lot of this year due to the bullpen we have.
Piazza leads off the fourth by lunging at a curve ball and popping up to center. I then make my first crucial mistake of the night. Going into the series Dan Johnson had swung at 1 of his last 19 first pitches. He took the first one in his first AB as well. I had a serious hunch that he’d be swinging at the first pitch and wanted to put a fastball on the corner, or just off, to get some bad contact and a quick out. Instead I end up aiming the ball and leaving it up and more on the plate than it could be and he crushes it over our pen to put them on the board. Bad mistake that could have been prevented with even an ounce of execution. I come back to get Bobby chasing a split for the out and then Travis flies out to right center to end the inning. We scored a run and I gave one back, not good.
Jason leads off the fifth by hitting a front door slider that got way too much of the plate, to center, to leadoff the inning. I get Ryan to chase a split for the first out and Shannon flies to center for the second out. I get Mark setup exactly how I wanted and leave a split up again, and he grounds the ball just over the bag at third, which our ball girl decides to field….. Back in that spot again, 2 outs and a game changing AB. I think I caught Eric guessing on the second fastball even though I was sure he’d swing at the first pitch. When he didn’t I had a feeling that he was trying to think along with us. So we go back outside for strike two and now we need to execute something here to end the inning. He lays off the first split and we go inside a few times and he fouls them off. We throw a pretty good split that fades away and then get the check swing call to end the inning.
I get lucky leading off the sixth as the fastball to Mike gets more plate than intended and he hits it to the deepest part of the park. Coco runs it down for the first out. Dan gets jammed on a very high curve ball and pops to short and the inning ends on a pop up to third by Crosby.
Seventh inning starts ominously as Travis hits a ball to the gap in left center for a lead off double. Jason singles to left on a hanging split and now we are right back trouble. Was caught off guard by Walker PH for Langerhans but Jason and I confer with John and we devise a way to pitch to him. First pitch backdoor slider is followed by a slider that was not as in as it was supposed to be and he lines it softly to center. I can almost always see the result of a fly ball to center before the end of the play. The only guys that screw me up are really fast guys, like Coco. I didn’t think there was any chance he was catching that ball and as I am wandering over to back up third I am already thinking about how I am going to pitch to Stewart. He comes up with it, and at the time in my mind that catch wins us the game.
I end up getting Shannon to ground out on a jam shot to second in which Dustin makes a great play charging in on the ball. Mark pops out to first and we avoid letting them get any closer, but that second run is huge in my mind.
Okie comes on and does what he’s done since day one. He gets more and more impressive every day you watch him perform. After the eigth I’m thinking game over. Now I’m still nervous, but it’s a Rivera’s on the mound to save the game for us kind of nervous. Paps may give up a hit, or walk a guy, but blown saves are few and far between.
You all know the ending so no need to rehash it. Bottom line is those guys got the better of us on a night when that doesn’t usually happen. Nothing to do but strap it on today and get back after it. The beauty of the season is just that, you get to go back out the next day and right the wrongs and a lot of times that its own cartharsis.