This was the kind of win that just makes you believe guys. A shutout, on the road, in front of a crowd that started off agitated and eventually just got up and left before the game had even ended. Oh sure it wasn’t perfect, the Wings had their chances and Tuukka had to make some stops. The scoring pretty much ended between the first intermission and Bergeron’s empty-netter in the third. But was this one ever really in doubt? The B’s scored twice in the first period and that was all they needed for the entire game. From then on they just bulled the Red Wings, halted any scoring chances and basically stayed two steps in front of their opponents for the rest of the game. Troublingly, Chara didn’t humiliate anyone on the Red Wings tonight. Maybe an off night for the captain?
So while the Bruins now have a lead in the series and have looked nearly unbeatable in the last two games, there’s still the small matter of winning two more, at least one of which will be coming on the road. However there’s no question that the Bruins are more than prepared to do it and you should tune in to see. The next game is on Thursday night at eight. Be there!
Highest WPA: lol no
Lowest WPA: Jon Lester, -.395 (4.2 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 7 K, 4 BB)
Let’s see. Um…well, only three of the runs were earned! And he had a really high BABIP against! And some third thing I can’t think of! You may remember last year, when I referenced a theoretical John Lackey Excuse Bingo card. All Lack did after that was resurrect his career and help carry the Red Sox to the World Series. So maybe let’s do that again, hmm?
But really, Jon Lester just had a really bad night tonight. That sucks. It especially sucks when it happens against the Yankees, and it especially sucks when a big part of it is because he got beat around by all the guys I wanted the Red Sox to sign that they didn’t. Brian McCann had a couple of hits; Carlos Beltran drove in a run; and of course, Jacoby Ellsbury was everywhere. He had extra-base hits as the first and last batter that Jon Lester faced; he made a diving catch in the outfield; and he got booed, apparently because nobody in Boston would take double the money their current job offered them to do the same job in a better city. I look forward to them booing Jon Lester, when he returns to Fenway in 2015 wearing the uniform of some other team. Maybe even the Yankees!
There are times when I can understand fans being mad about a player taking more money and going elsewhere. Johnny Damon famously said that he would never play for the Yankees, then ditched that and went to them for a comparatively paltry difference compared to the Red Sox’ offer. Jacoby Ellsbury is not Johnny Damon. He never chose to play for the Red Sox. He never said that he wouldn’t play for the Yankees. And he never got a serious offer to stay in Boston, because the Red Sox were convinced that Jackie Bradley was ready to go and could handle the load.
Jackie Bradley has a batting line of .232/.338/.304. Jacoby Ellsbury has a batting line of .347/.400/.486. No further comment.
Jacoby Ellsbury helped the Red Sox win two World Series, then took the best offer he got in a market where the Red Sox weren’t interested in keeping him. I don’t understand how that makes him any more boo-worthy than any other Yankee, never mind Derek Jeter, who actually got cheers tonight. I’d like to see the mental machinations that are necessary for a Red Sox fan to boo Jacoby Ellsbury and cheer Derek Jeter, but I guess the good news is that we’ll have plenty of time to make sense of at least one of them.
Highest WPA: Dustin Pedroia, .287 (2-3, 2B, 2 BB, RBI)
Lowest WPA: Clay Buchholz, -.339 (2.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, K, BB)
Remember 2007? In addition to winning the World Series, the future looked bright for the Red Sox, as a young stud prospect named Clay Buchholz threw a no-hitter. It was easy to project him as the ace of the rotation for a decade to come–or, if you’re me, to advocate trading him for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. To say that the six-plus seasons since have failed to live up to expectations would be an understatement. Since that no-hitter, Buchholz has been a frustrating enigma, throwing up flashes of brilliance that, all too often, are overshadowed by injuries or ineffectiveness. He’s had just one season where he managed to make 17 starts or more and also put up an ERA+ over 100; all the rest have either been short or bad. Today was both.
Obviously, Clay’s true talent isn’t that of a guy who’s going to get shelled every time out, but he’s also making it tough to argue that he’s capable of putting up full seasons like 2010 or 2013, at least without some massive batted ball luck behind him. For his career, he has a 120 ERA+, and that’s about what he is: A good pitcher, not a great one, who will occasionally lay an egg. Today, that egg was too much for the resurgent offense to overcome. It didn’t help that John Farrell decided that a cold Jonathan Herrera–he of the career 69 OPS+–would be a better choice than David Ross to bat in the eighth with the tying runs on base, or that Xander Bogaerts nearly got himself picked off and then pulled off the TOOTBLAN on the next pitch, but this one’s on Clay.
The Yankees come to town tomorrow, and with them will come stupid boo birds for Jacoby Ellsbury. Don’t be stupid. Don’t boo Jacoby Ellsbury.
Yeah so that was more like it. Dominant Bruins hockey through three periods and an ending that was never really in doubt. Boston looked more like the best-in-the league team that had stormed through the regular season and the Wings looked more like an injured team that had somehow stumbled into the playoffs yet again in a bad conference only to meet the most dangerous possible opponent. Maybe the most telling image of the entire game was Brendan Smith challenging Zdeno Chara to a fight only for Chara to literally laugh in his face. Maybe it was Jimmy Howard making a terrible pass that Justin Florek immediately intercepted and flipped into the net for the first goal of the night. Who knows?
If the rest of the series goes like this then the Bruins can pretty much be counted on to take it home. Detroit didn’t look bad this afternoon as much as they did, say, overmatched. This was the way the Bruins played all season and it’s great to see them playing this way in the playoffs. With the intensity of the NHL postseason, a team as physical as Boston has a lot of advantages and the way that they used them this afternoon was quite heartening. The next Bruins game is on Tuesday in Detroit, so tune in and make sure that they win.
Sportspun: Ubaldo Jimenez was a pretty bad Major League pitcher for two seasons before 2013, then for the first half of 2013. After being really good for the second half, he got right back to being really bad – worse than ever, actually – in his first three starts with the Orioles, walking 10 and striking out 13 while allowing 4 home runs.
And that’s why the first half of tonight’s game was immensely frustrating. In a game – yet another one – where the team had a chance to make some sort of statement, to have a performance that said, “it’s okay guys, bumpy start but we’re righting the ship,” the Red Sox just couldn’t get to Jimenez for much. And that’s an awfully familiar lament this season, with a lineup with notable flaws also suffering from an underperforming core.
But after Jonny Gomes’ home run cut the deficit to two runs and Jimenez was done… well, that’s a much happier familiar tune. And if you think “grind the starter down, then feast on middle relievers” is a nice callback to 2013, how’s “dropped double play” strike you? Ryan Flaherty is no Pete Kozma, and the play should have held up as an out, but as far as I’m concerned, we’re owed at least one more bad reviewed play (or, in this case, unreviewed bad call) before I say we’re even for the year.
Goog: And that’s where Sportspun went to bed, because he’s a responsible, productive human who has to work in the morning and values his sleep more than watching two teams flail at each other while John Kruk talks about it. I, on the other hand, have no such priority allocation, and so I got to watch two managers manage at each other for a while. First it was John Farrell, pulling Junichi Tazawa after just one pitch to let Andrew Miller face a bunch of righties, then botching the removal of Miller and having Edward Mujica face a lefty with the go-ahead run on third.
Not to be outdone, Buck Showalter fell back on an old classic: He refused to use his CLOSER–put into that role because he’s supposed to be the best reliever the Orioles have–into the “they score, we lose” situation. The result: A near-laser show that took like an hour longer to sort out than it needed to, a wild pitch, and in the end, a walkoff. But hey, at least they’ll have the CLOSER available tomorrow, in case there’s the chance of a SAVE!
Highest WPA: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRROCK Holt, .208 (1-3, 3B, RBI)
Lowest WPA: David Ross, -.089 (0-3, 2 K, LOB)
This game was in jeopardy a number of times, with Felix Doubront laboring off the bat and then somehow being allowed to face JJ Hardy with the bases loaded in a tied game in the sixth. Then, just when the Sox finally took a two-run lead into the ninth and seemed ready to coast to victory, Koji Uehara decided to walk the leadoff man and inject just a bit of tension into the proceedings.
But that’s not why I chose this title. No, it’s much more literal than that: I spent most of this game watching Jeopardy! with my mother. We’re a few weeks behind–the last game we saw was the second game of the cute champion who looks like a cross between Emily Deschanel and Alexandra Daddario–but we blow through five or six episodes in a sitting, so we never fall *too* far back. It seemed like a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than watching a Felix Doubront start. I have no regrets.
Anyway, it seems like this was an entertaining game. David Ross got thrown at, Brock Holt did a thing, and Taz and Koji were kind enough to remind us that not every reliever the Red Sox have is a dumpster fire. Tomorrow the Sox are the Sunday night game; if it doesn’t look good early, look for the recap to be called “Once Upon A Time.”