Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Colon Ends Red Sox Losing Streak

Bartolo Colon pitched his second start of the season for the Red Sox last night and collected his second win, beating the Seattle Mariners 5-3. Colon continues to look sharp, throwing mostly fastballs in the low 90's, but hitting 96 on the radar a number of times, and showing good movement on his 2-seam fastball. By the way, has anyone mentioned to the Mariners that Colon is still fresh off of a rehab assignment to recover from surgery, as well as a couple of minor injuries? He is on a limited, but increasing, pitch count as he works himself back into shape. So, what do the Mariners do? They swing early and often, allowing Colon to make it through 7 innings while only throwing 84 pitches.
Bartolo Colon
Colon faced 28 batters last night, and 14 of those plate appearances lasted no more than 2 pitches! A wiser, more patient lineup would have worked Colon's pitch count up much earlier and challenged his conditioning. That may be part of why the Mariners have lost 7 in a row, and currently possess the worst record in all of baseball.

But, a win is a win, and stopping a losing streak is essential, especially when that losing streak allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to jump over you and re-take possession of first place.

Ichiro SuzukiThe highlight of the game was a spectacular catch by Ichiro Suzuki to rob Jason Varitek of, what looked to be, a sure double off the wall in right center field in the 5th inning. When the ball first came off the bat, it looked like it had the legs to be a home run, but Ichiro got on his horse and flew after the ball on a collision course with the outfield fence. While still running full speed and a single step to go before reaching the wall, he jumped and caught the ball over his shoulder, and plowed into the wall face first, both feet still up off the ground. Luckily the wall is well padded and it threw Ichiro back towards the field. Ichiro, while falling backwards, incredibly ensured his grip on the ball was secure, grabbed his hat to keep it from flying off his head, and rolled back onto the grass. He was shaken, but firmly cemented in history, just completing one of the top catches of all time.

But, Ichiro could not provide all the defense for Seattle, and the Red Sox found ways to get enough runs to win. Seattle starter, Felix Hernandez, pitched a terrific game, only giving up a 4th inning solo home run to David Ortiz through 7 innings. But, the 8th inning would be his downfall. In the 8th the Red Sox finally wore him down (see how that works, Seattle?) as all nine batters got a turn at bat against Hernandez in the inning. By the time it was over, the Red Sox had scored 4 to take a 5-1 lead.

Hideki Okajima relieved Colon and pitched a scoreless 8th inning to turn the ball over to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th. But, what looked like a textbook game for red Sox pitching started unravelling. Papelbon struck out the first batter to start the inning, but got himself in trouble as the next batter hit a dribbler back towards the mound. Papelbon fielded the ball but rushed the throw and sailed it over Sean Casey's head at first. Another single and a strikeout later, Papelbon found himself in more trouble. With runners on second and third, and two outs, Ichiro ripped a fastball to center to plate one run and put another runner at third. Papelbon then bounced a pitch to the next batter that flew 20 feet off of Varitek's Memorial Day camouflage armor to allow a second runner to score. But, a nifty play on a ground ball to his left allowed Dustin Pedroia to put an end to the game and preserve the 5-3 win.
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Tonight our own Japanese sensation, Daisuke Matsuzaka, will try to improve his record to 9-0. The stars look like they are lined up for that to happen against the struggling Mariners who send Miguel Batista to the mound. Batista is 3-6 with a 6.47 ERA this season, and has been experimenting with a new throwing technique - one that is not working well for him. Stranger things have happened, but this seems like a game that Dice-K should win. The Mariners do not seem to possess the patience to let Dice-K get into trouble with walks or a high pitch count. When he paints the corners, they'll be swinging. That should work to his advantage, and keep the Sox in pace with the Rays in the chase for first place!

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


Matt said...

Where were their bats at the games I went to? I don't think there is anything worse than seeing your team 1 hit in person....it would have been pretty cool to see a no hitter, or even a perfect game (if Tek wasn't beaned) but a 1 hitter just sucks! I have the distinction of being a 2 games when the Sox were 1 hit...the other being by Jason Schmidt and the Giants.

Rooster said...

I know - I felt bad for you, knowing how much you had been looking forward to seeing them, and Manny possibly getting to 500 HR's. You barely got to see anything.

Being at the game when your team under-performs is never fun!

Peter N said...

Hey FW...and Rooster, did you get a UPS package today (hint, hint) ?? I sure did!! And WOW!
Let me know. Peter

Rooster said...

No, not today, but I think mine was a day behind yours. Should be tomorrow. I'll let you know.