Friday, May 25, 2007

The only way the Spirit ever lose is in dramatic fashion, so I won't use a cliche in the headline for fear of using them all by June 10

The Skinny:
Nashua gets a walkoff 3-2 win in a pitcher's duel; "A-OK" dazzles in opener

Game Story:
The Nashua Pride (1-1) evened their series with the North Shore Spirit (1-1) tonight, scoring a 3-2 walk off victory at Holman Stadium. Derek Drage was impressive for the Spirit, pitching 2.2 solid innings, but wound up getting the loss. Pride reliever Steve Palazzolo pitched a scoreless ninth to get the win.

Spirit starter Matt Bishop was excellent, yielding 2 unearned runs in 5+ innings of work. He retired 14 straight batters in a streak spanning from the last two outs of the first inning all the way through the fifth.

The Pride's walkoff win came on a bizzare play. Derek Drage, in his third inning of work, walked Jose Velazquez with one out in the 9th. Matt Creighton followed with a single to right field to put runners on the corners.

Then, Ryan Duplissie chopped one to third base. Mike Torres came up with the ball and threw it to 2nd in hopes of turning an inning-ending double play. The throw got away from Ricardo Cordova, however, who was spiked by Creighton and was down on the ground for a few minutes following the play. There is no update yet on his condition. (Mr. Leahy, are you out there with one for us?)

It was an unfair ending to the day for Drage, who threw one pitch to retire the Pride in the 6th then smoked his way through the 7th and the 8th, and adding one out in the 9th to retire 8 straight before his meltdown. Despite the loss, he certainly proved himself to be a reliable part of this year's bullpen and clearly Davilla has a lot of faith in him.

For Nashua, the story of the game was "A-OK," Akira Okimoto, who pitched 5 shutout innings and got a no-decision. He struck out 9 batters and did not allow a walk. He only pitched his way into one jam when Brad Rea and Mike Torres got 1-out singles in the 2nd inning but he struck out JC Gutierrez and Jerson Perez consecutively to end the threat and hold what was then a 1-0 Nashua lead.

The Pride got that lead in the first inning with an unearned run. With Tom Creighton on first base, Jose Velazquez laced a single to right that was bobbled by Carlos Rodriguez; the error allowed Creighton to reach 3rd. He then came in to score on a wild pitch by Bishop.

North Shore took the lead in the 6th off Nashua's other Japanese pitcher, Hideki Nagasaka. With 2 outs, Carlos Rodriguez singled and reached 2nd on a Nagasaka wild pitch. Nagasaka continued to be wild, walking Fischer and plunking Brad Rea to load the bases. Then, new Spirit hero (but 9th inning goat? I didn't see the play, so I don't know who to blame) Mike Torres came through with a 2-RBI double which put the Spirit on top 2-1.

Nashua tied the game right back up in the bottom of the 6th, though. Bishop was lifted after giving up a leadoff hit to Gianotti. Donny Langdon then came in to pitch for the Spirit. The first batter he faced, Tom Creighton, attempted a sac bunt; Langdon picked it up and threw it wide of first base, allowing Gianotti to reach 3rd. Omar Rosario hit a sac fly to centerfield to score Gianotti and tie the game.

After that, Nagasaka settled down, crusing through the 7th for Nashua. Jim Mann also dominated the Spirit in his inning of relief work in the 8th. Meanwhile, Drage (my nickname for him: Ivan Drago) was perfect through the 7th and 8th for the Spirit, before the 9th inning heartbreak.

Overall this was a good performance for the Spirit: great starting pitching, dominant relief work by Drage, and some clutch offense in the 6th off of tough pitching. It was somewhat disconcerting that Langdon came in and threw the lead away immediately, but he still pitched fairly well - it was his error, not his pitching, which cost him the most.

I can't fault Derek Drage for losing this game after pitching as well as he did but there will inevitably be questions as to why Vic left him in to pitch in the 9th after Nashua put runners on the corners; it seemed like he was tiring, but again, it's hard to tell over the radio. I also want to refrain from comment on the last play of the game until I hear an eyewitness account from someone who saw the play. It SEEMS to me like Torres erred in greedily seeking the DP instead of holding the winning run at 3rd base, but again, I don't know. Also I'm not sure if the throw to 2nd was bad, or if it got away BECAUSE Cordova was spiked. IF that's the case, I expect beanballs to fly tomorrow.

Line Score

NSS 0 0 0 – 0 0 2 – 0 0 0 --- 2

NAS 1 0 0 – 0 0 1 – 0 0 1 --- 3

Win: Palazollo (1-0)
Loss: Drage (0-1)
Save: None
HRs: None

Spirit Pitchers:
Bishop: 5+ IP, 2 R, 0 ER
Langdon: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, allowed inherited run to score
Drage: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, Loss (0-1)

Spirit RBI:
Torres, 2 (2)

Spiritfans.Blogspot.Com Player of the Game:
Matt Bishop (1)

Post Game Notes:
-Cordova was down on the ground for several minutes after the game as he was apparently spiked on the final play... no update as of yet

Burning Questions

1. Assess Vic's overall day, including the way he handled the ninth inning.
2. Do you have any facts (or opinions) about what happened on that final play? Eyewitness accounts would be greatly appreciated.


Joe Grav said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Grav said...

1 Comment - Show Original Post

Joe Grav said...

I thought Davilla had an excellent game until the 9th. Taking out Bishop when he did was a good idea in his first start of the season - you don't want to push him for too long.

Bringing in Drage when the righty came up was a good situational move. Kennedy undoubtedly would have stayed with Langdon because he was, in fact, pitching pretty well -- but it was good to pre-empt Langdon tiring and go to Drage.

Drage pitched phenomenally from there until the 9th so that wound up being a good move, but I'm not sure why Drage stayed in after putting runners on the corners.

I would have thrown Fitz or Baker out there to START the 9th inning because Drage is a reliever and I never expect relievers to go more than 3 innings, but I understand that at this point of the season you want to limit use of your bullpen aces, especially your closer.

But the fact that Fitz started warming up during the inning shows that he WAS available tonight, so I question not bringing him in w/ runners on the corners.

So, basically, I would have understood not wanting to use the Fitz but obviously Vic was willing to use him. So where was he? And wha'bout Baker?

I'm not gonna lose any sleep over this one, though-- Vic managed a great game until the 9th and I can understand why he wanted to stay with Drage in this situation, especially since he had been so dominant.

Every Spirit pitcher had a great game, too. And although the lineup didn't hit, they faced some awesome pitchers so you can't really blame them.

The fact that they came through with a rally in the 6th was heartening...from there it's up to our nazztay bullpen to hold the lead. And this time, they didn't -- oh well.

I'm confident that over the course of this season, more often than not they WILL hold any Spirit lead - no matter who Vic puts out there... because this pitching staff is phenomenal.

Well done to the Pride.