Game Story - Timlin looks good but PawSox lose 5-2
By KEVIN McNAMARA
Journal Sports Writer
PAWTUCKET – About the only thing that went right for the Pawtucket Red Sox last night was the most important of all.
Mike Timlin looked good in his best rehab performance yet but the PawSox struggled in a 5-2 loss to the Columbus Clippers. Timlin pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning and pronounced himself ready to return to the bullpen in Boston. No word on Timlin’s status for this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees is expected until today.
``I felt like I was ready a long time ago but obviously I wasn’t. That’s irrelevant, what I feel,’’ Timlin said. ``It was a good outing. I threw 80 percent strikes, which was good.’’
The night started off on a poor note when expected starting pitcher Runelvys Hernandez reported to work yesterday and decided to exercise an option to vacant his contract with the Red Sox organization. Hernandez had until today (June 1) to choose to stay in the system or become a free agent.
``It’s a reminder that this is a business,’’ said manager Ron Johnson. ``We weren’t caught off-guard, necessarily. We knew this was an option and this is a level where stuff like that happens.’’
Johnson tabbed Abe Alvarez to fill the open spot in the rotation and it wasn’t a good night for the lefty. Alvarez, who pitched two innings in relief on Sunday, was roughed up for five runs over 4.1 innings and dug a hole his weak-hitting teammates couldn’t battle out of. Felix Diaz, a veteran righty who’s pitched in the majors for the White Sox, stifled the Sox for seven innings and left the game with a 5-0 lead. He picked up the win and is now 4-4 on the year.
Alvarez, who fell to 3-4, allowed three singles, a double and a walk in a busy fourth inning. Brandon Harper hit a 2-run double to give Columbus a 2-0 lead and then a wild pitch allowed a third run to score. With the bases loaded and two out, Brandon Watson laid down a perfect bunt that let Harper breeze in with the Clipper’s fourth run.
Columbus added a fifth run in the fifth inning when Kory Castro hit a solo home run. That ended Alvarez’s night and brought Pawtucket’s relief corps into action. That was clearly the home team’s bright spot. First Manny Delcarmen didn’t allow a hit and struck out three of the five hitters he faced in relief of Alvarez. Timlin took over for the start of the seventh inning and also breezed. He threw just 12 pitches, eight for strikes, in setting the Clippers down in order. He retired Watson on a grounder to first base, got Bernie Castro to pop up to short left field and watched Darnell McDonald hit a lazy fly ball to center.
Craig Breslow replaced Timlin and also pitched well, allowing just one hit over an easy eighth and ninth innings.
The Pawtucket offense continues to struggle. The Sox are last in the International in runs scored (194) and came into last night hitting .246 as a team, tied for second-to-last. They managed only five hits last night and never mounted a rally off of Diaz.
The same couldn’t be said for the Clipp’s first reliever, Alex Morales. He opened the eighth inning by walking the first two hitters and allowing a Joe McEwing single to load the bases. David Murphy then hit a long, loud fly ball that wasn’t chased down until McDonald’s back was up against the right field fence.
``I thought it was gone off the bat. When he hit it, I thought that was a (grand) slam right there,’’ said Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson.
The long out drove in Chad Spann with the Sox’ first run and another walk to Brandon Moss to load the bases again ended Morales’ ugly stint on the mound. Closer Chris Booker came in and walked Michael Tucker to force in Jacoby Ellsbury with the second run of the inning but Booker escaped further trouble in the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth to close out the Sox.
Timlin was happy with his one inning of work which came under the watchful eye of Boston manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell.
``Not too bad,’’ he said. ``It was time on the mound. That’s all it was. Just getting a feel of a release point.’’
Asked if he could throw for the Red Sox at Fenway this weekend, Timlin answered, ``I don’t expect things anymore. It’s not my decision.’’
Columbus 5 Pawtucket 2
The Columbus Clippers hit Pawtucket starter Abe Alvarez up for five runs over four-plus innings and went on to win at McCoy Stadium Thursday night, 5-2.
Alvarez was a surprise starter after Runelvys Hernandez opted out of his contract earlier in the day. Hernandez had an option to become a free agent on June 1 and decided to exercise that clause a day early.
Alvarez pitched well for three innings but Columbus hit him for four runs in the fourth inning with a 2-run double by Brandon Harper and a wild pitch that allowed another run to score being the key plays. Kory Castro hit a solo home run in leading off the fifth inning to extend Columbus' lead to 5-0.
The Clippers' pitcher, Felix Diaz had his best outing of the season against Pawtucket. The veteran righty dominated the home team, limiting the Sox to no runs and four hits over seven innings to improve his record to 4-4 on the year.
The PawSox scored 2 runs in the eighth inning, thanks in large part to 4 walks.
Mike Timlin pitched a perfect seventh inning for the PawSox in relief. The veteran right-hander threw just 12 pitches, 8 for strikes, and pushed his fastball up into the low-90's on the McCoy Stadium radar gun. Red Sox manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell were both on hand to watch Timlin and the PawSox. No word on Timlin's status with Boston was revealed last night.
The PawSox hit the road and begin a weekend series in Norfolk Friday.
Mike Timlin's fourth appearance with the PawSox in the last week was his smoothest yet.
Timlin just pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning against the Columbis Clippers with manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell watching from behind the plate.
Timlin threw his fastball in the low-90's and retired Brandon Watson on a ground ball to first base, Bernie Castro on a fly ball to short left and Darnell McDonald on a lazy fly to center.
It looks like that'll be it for Timlin. If he come sback out for the eighth, we'll let you know.
The PawSox trail the Clips, 5-0.
Jason Giambi will be sidelined at least three weeks because of torn tissue in the arch of his left foot, the latest setback in a tumultuous season for the New York Yankees designated hitter.
Giambi was examined in New York on Thursday by Dr. William Hamilton. Giambi will be placed on the disabled list before Friday's game at Boston, and his foot will be put in a walking boot.
“He will be re-evaluated in three weeks,” Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said.
Giambi was shifted from first base to designated hitter this year and hit .322 with four homers and 17 RBIs in April. His foot began bothering him soon after he played the field for the first time on April 28, and he batted .117 in May with three homers and six RBIs.
He originally was diagnosed with a bone spur and switched to shoes with orthotics that he said relieved the pain. Giambi traveled to New York on Thursday's day off, intending to get a cortisone shot, but Hamilton said Giambi had plantar fasciitis, inflamed tissue near the heel, and a partially torn plantar fascia.
The 36-year-old Giambi, the 2000 AL MVP with the Oakland Athletics, is in the sixth season of a $120 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees and has been in the news this season for his role in baseball's steroids controversy.
In the May 18 editions of USA Today he was quoted as saying “I was wrong for doing that stuff,” which many interpreted as an admission of steroids use, and the Daily News reported five days later that he had failed an amphetamines test within the past year.
Giambi met last week with lawyers for Major League Baseball, and his case has been turned over to commissioner Bud Selig, who hasn't said whether he will attempt to discipline Giambi.
Melky Cabrera is likely to receive more playing time in the outfield while Giambi is sidelined, with Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui seeing spells at DH.
Giambi has been among the struggling hitters in New York's lineup. The Yankees are just 22-29, tied for last in the AL East and 131/2 games behind first-place Boston heading into a weekend series at Fenway Park.
Sean McAdam is today's guest on Projo SoxTalk with Art Martone. Click here to listen to the audio file. Sean discusses Dice-K's tough outing last night (he feels Matsuzaka was probably feeling some effects from the illness he experienced over the weekend in Texas) and the state of the Yankees coming into Fenway for the weekend (he doesn't see them making up their 13 1/2-game deficit). He also has some interesting comments about Alex Rodriguez's latest adventure in Toronto, when he apparently tricked infielder Howie Clark into believing that he was being called off a popup.
Here's some of what Sean had to say about Rodriguez:
"Last night certainly brought back memories of 2004 in the ALCS, trying to swipe the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove on a play at first. It's really the kind of thing that is not looked upon well by fellow players, whether they be opponents or teammates. And the amazing thing is A-Rod does these kind of things, and then seems surprised that people take exception to it. You just dont see major league players attempting to distract an infielder from catching a ball by yelling at him and giving the impression that it's a teammate that's closing in and calling him off. There was universal condemnation from the Blue Jays and, as often is the case on this stuff, not a lot of support from his own teammates."
It's been an interesting year in the American League so far, with the Red Sox soaring, the Yankees faltering, some big names struggling and some new stars (hello Kevin Youkilis) emerging.
And none of the folks voting for the American League All-Star team seems to notice. So far, there are two members of the Red Sox who stand to gain starting positions. Guess who? David Ortiz is far ahead among "first basemen" (he's a DH, of course, but to be on the ballot he had to be assigned a position), and Manny Ramirez with his .269 batting average is in line to get one of the outfield spots. The cellar-dwelling Yankees right now stand to get three starters: Robinson Cano at second, Derek Jeter (certainly deserving) at short and Stray-Rod (the leading vote-getter overall) at third. The other front-runners to start for the A.L. are a familiar lot: Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki. You know something is wrong with the fan voting system, by the way, when Jason Giambi has more votes at first base than Justin Morneau. Click here to see the full voting results so far.
Getting back to Manny Ramirez, his outfield assist last night (thanks to a perfectly executed phantom tag by Dustin Pedroia) was clearly the highlight for Sox fans of a dreary sixth inning. You could see why Josh Barfield was angry. Not only was he actually safe on the play, but it's just amazing how much Manny can get on one of his throws without actually bending his knees.
Kevin Youkilis, who has a hit in 22 straight games, remains five games short of Ramirez's 27-game hit streak from last season.
Still, says the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley, there's no reason to worry. (Seth Mnookin concurs.) And, he adds, there's certainly no reason to invoke memories of 1978, which is the next big ghost of the past waiting to be exorcised. (Maybe the Sox could beat the Mets in the World Series and make it a two-fer, erasing the stain of 1986, as well.)
NOW THIS REMINDS ME OF 1978: For whatever on-field links the contemporary Yankees have had to their storied predecessors in recent years, they've never come close to their '70s brethen when it comes to off-field shenanigans . . . until now. Alex Rodriguez' wife apparently has left him (New York Daily News) in light of the New York Post's Stray-Rod spread showing him squiring a ''mysterious, busty blonde'' around Toronto Sunday night (including a stop in ''a flashy strip club''). The Daily News story gets pretty salacious -- A-Rod is ''the king of the strip clubs," according to one source, and story adds he ''even shoots X-rated text messages to his favorite strippers across the country'' -- and, in best Woodward-and-Bernstein/Edward R. Murrow tradition, the Post has dug deeper and learned that A-Rod has been spotted with a similar-looking woman in other cities, as well.
So just when the tabloids had turned A-Rod into a sympathetic figure (Toronto Star), he turned himself back into a villain by resurrecting his Slappy McBluelips/Little League persona. (Yelling "Mine!" at a fielder as he runs by? Really . . . ) The Daily News' Bill Madden thinks it's time for Rodriguez to ''wake up; everyone is watching you.''
IN OTHER NEWS: Ichiro says he doesn't usually do this, but admitted that he sent mental signals for the ball not to be hit to him the other night because the color of the sky made it difficult for him to see. (enjoytheenjoyment.blogspot.com) Blogger Seth Kolloen enjoyed the admission: ''I think what Ichiro's trying to say is that he couldn't see the ball at all, so he was, essentially, praying that it wouldn't be hit to him. As the Times' Geoff Baker points out, 'How many of us, at one point or another, stood out there in the outfield as kids just praying to some unseen force that the ball wouldn't be hit our way?' ''
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT YESTERDAY: Kevin Youkilis has joined Curt Schilling in the blogosphere. (kevinyoukilis.mlblogs.com/)
BOSTON — For the first time this week, the Boston Red Sox didn’t receive a sterling effort from a starting pitcher. Yet, at this point of the season, that doesn’t seem to matter very much.
The Red Sox have the final day of May off to rest, play golf or pick up their children from school. They also have reason to celebrate with a whopping 11½-game lead in the American League East in their back pockets. The two months of work spent accumulating that advantage gives the Sox room to dismiss a very shaky outing like the one Daisuke Matsuzaka turned in last night in a 8-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
Dice-K didn’t resemble the rookie flash that’s baffled several opponents with a vast array of offerings so far this season. He was rocked for 12 hits and six runs over just 52/3 innings, easily his shakiest outing of the season. The Indians did most of their damage in the fifth and sixth innings when they hit up Matsuzaka for six runs on eight hits with several of his pitches being scalded.
Instead of keeping the Indians guessing as to which pitch he’d throw next, Matsuzaka seemed to rely on his fastball a bit too much and left too many off-speed pitches — like the fat slider Grady Sizemore crushed over the bullpen wall in right for a 2-run homer in the sixth — out over the plate.
Boston’s bullpen wasn’t much better. Cleveland pounded out a season-high 18 hits and showed why they’ll be a factor all season long in the A.L. Central.
Now the Red Sox have a chance to begin the third month of the season by supplying another deadly blow to their arch-enemies from New York. The Yankees come to town for a weekend series that some are billing as a potential burial for the boys from Gotham. Indeed, it could be.
The Yanks snapped a five-game nosedive with a 10-5 win last night in Toronto that cut their deficit in the A.L. East to 13½ games. A Red Sox sweep this weekend would bury the Yanks in a 16½-game hole. The flip side is a Yankee sweep would cut the lead to 10½ and give Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and the newest addition to the pitching staff, Roger Clemens, reason to hope over the next few months.
New York also has today off and will come to Fenway Park with their its three top pitchers — Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte — ready to throw. Boston counters with Tim Wakefield, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett, who are a combined 18-7.
However the weekend ends up, the Red Sox clearly have reason to hold all the confidence in the world. Despite Matsuzaka’s shaky outing last night, the team’s starting pitching has been excellent. The deep and talented lineup has racked up the third-most runs in the American League, even with big bopper Manny Ramirez off to a less-than-stellar start. The bullpen has been better than solid, too, with Jonathan Papelbon throwing well and lefty setup man Hideki Okajima emerging as one of the biggest surprises in baseball.
Boston has dominated series against the three teams with the next-best records in the American League (Angels, Indians and Tigers) by a combined 8-2 record.
But lost amid all the glee over the fast start and the fat lead over the Yankees is the fact that the Red Sox’ goal is not to beat New York and win the A.L. East title for the first time since 1995. It’s to win the World Series.
Cruising to a 10-game division win over the Yankees would be a great achievement but it means nothing if the Sox lose to Cleveland in the A.L. Division Series. Boston is off to an historic start over the season’s first two months and the 14½ game lead over the Yankees was accumulated so quickly, and stunningly, that fans certainly have grown giddy.
Now it’s time to see if the next few months can come off just as sweet.
PAWTUCKET -- Briefly climbing out of the IL North cellar with last week’s victories over Syracuse, only to have the Chiefs send them right back down with two wins in the second half of that series, the Pawtucket Red Sox haven’t done much to help their cause in their current series against Columbus either.
Seemingly flirting with a no-hitter through 3 2/3 innings, lefty Kason Gabbard watched a strong start fall apart, as the PawSox dropped its second straight to the Clippers with an 8-4 setback, last night at McCoy Stadium.
Pawtucket - which drops to 20-29 and has not been above .500 since an April 13 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre made them 5-4 - took a 1-0 lead in the second when Clippers right-hander Tim Redding gave up three straight singles to Bobby Scales, Michael Tucker and Ed Rogers, then a sacrifice fly to left to George Kottaras.
But that’s the only run Redding, the eventual winner, would allow over his 7.1-inning stint, and the PawSox’ slim lead soon evaporated when Gabbard ran into some control problems.
After retiring 11 of the first 12 batters he faced and starting off the fourth by fanning Bernie Castro and Darnell McDonald, the southpaw walked three of the next five Clippers and gave up his first two hits to the other two.
Walking Kory Casto and DAngelo Jimenez, Gabbard then gave up an infield single to Michael Restovich that loaded the bases.
Issuing another walk to Abraham Nunez that plated Casto, Gabbard then surrendered a two-run single to right to Brandon Harper that put Columbus up, 3-1.
Gabbard was lifted in the sixth after Restovich belted one of his offerings off the concession stand wall in center field for a solo home run.
``He got two outs, two strikes and then we’ve seen it in baseball before, he just got out of rhythm,’’ PawSox manager Ron Johnson said of Gabbard (4-2). ``His curveball and his changeup were really outstanding pitches for him tonight. Got a little bit off with the command of the fastball, but all in all, 5 1/3 innings, 4 hits, 4 runs. That was the one inning where he walked those guys. That was it. You can’t really look at that and go, `He struggled.’ Well, did he? Four hits. This was a pretty good hitting ball club, as we saw late in the game.’’
PawSox reliever Mike Burns, on the otherhand, did struggle mightily, lasting just 1 1/3 innings after giving up four more runs on five hits - including a three-run blast into the right-field picnic area to Casto and an RBI double to Nunez, both in the seventh inning. (It didn’t help that third baseman Chad Spann overthrew first on a sac bunt by Castro on the second play of that inning, which allowed Brandon Watson to advance to third and Castro to make it to second.)
Although the gap proved too large for Pawtucket to close, Johnson was pleased to see his team rally for three runs in the eighth, when the PawSox batted around the order and capitalized on back-to-back doubles by Kottaras and Spann, three walks and an error.
``These guys are playing hard,’’ said Johnson. ``They play hard every night. They hustle every night. They bust their butt. It’s a game of patience. It’s a game of discipline. We battled back. We scratched for some. I’m really proud of the club to get them on the board late. We’re just lacking that one little thing right there, and that’s the gapper. That’s what we’ve been missing, where somebody could get (a hit)into a gap. So back to the drawing board (tonight).’’
BOSTON _ For one of the few times all season, Red Sox pitching was pounded last night, more than hard enough to put an end to the team’s winning streak.
Cleveland pounded Daisuke Matsuzaka for 12 hits, six for extra bases, in 5 2/3 innings on the way to a 8-4 triumph over the Sox.
The 12 hits mark the first time Matsuzaka has given up double-figures in that department. It also equals the most given up by any Red Sox pitcher all season. Curt Schilling also was tagged for 12 hits against the Yankees last week. In all Cleveland pounded 18 hits, equaling the most Boston has allowed.
The Sox led 2-0 after four, thanks for single runs in the second and fourth. Mike Lowell’s double set up an unearned run in the second off Cleveland starter Paul Byrd. It was the 22nd straight Fenway game in which Lowell has had a hit.
Kevin Youkilis extended his overall hitting streak to 22 games with a single in the third. Doubles by Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek accounted for the run that put Boston up 2-0 in the fourth.
After that, the Indians were the team with the doubles. They had five off Matsuzaka. The Tribe also received a two-run homer from Grady Sizemore into the Cleveland bullpen in the sixth, the blow that knocked Matsuzaka out of the game.
Boston loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh but did not score. David Ortiz lined out to end it, one pitch after pulling a potential grand slam about 10 feet foul in right. Lowell hit a two-run homer, his 10th, into the Monster seats in the eighth. Kelly Shoppach had four of Cleveland’s 18 hits, including his second home run of the season.
The result ended Boston’s winning streak at five games.
So what does a Major League manager do when he gets a rare day off?
In Terry Francona’s case, he plans to sample the hot dogs at McCoy Stadium tonight.
The Red Sox manager said he and pitching coach John Farrell plan to head to Pawtucket tonight. It is not for purely for pleasure. They want to check on Mike Timlin, Jon Lester and the other Pawtucket players. Timlin is still in Pawtucket. He struggled in one inning of work Tuesday coming back from a battle with tendonitis in his pitching shoulder.
``Kind of the reason he was going back was to repeat his delivery and be a little more consistent,’’ Francona said. ``I think last night showed he’s not quite there. I think he feels healthy. He feels like he’s got pretty good arm strength, but as far as repeating his pitches in his delivery, that’s why he’s there doing it.
``I don’t want to speak for him. I think he’s frustrated, but I think he understands,’’
The report on Lester’s outing Tuesday was all positive. The manager said he exchanged text messages with Lester and that Lester will be allowed to throw more pitches in his next start than the 84 he threw Tuesday. Francona said he and Farrell plan to scout the food at McCoy, too.
`We’ll go down there and watch some of the guys, get a chance to watch a game from a different view,’’ he said. ``We’ll see if they have any good hot dogs.’’
When a team enjoys as much success as the Red Sox are this season, plenty of people deserve credit. In the past week, John Farrell has jumped high on that list.
The first-year pitching coach has had his name thrown around several days in a row now and all of it has been good. Manager Terry Francona was the latest to heap praise on Farrell. He did it this afternoon in his pre-game session with the media.
``He’s been phenomenal,’’ Francona said of Farrell. ``That’s why we hired him.’’
The 44-year-old Farrell pitched in the majors for eight years with Cleveland, California and Detroit, compiling a 36-46 record and 4.56 in 116 games 109 starts. He spent five years at Oklahoma State, his alma mater, as assistant coach/pitching coach/recruiting coordinator before becoming Cleveland’s director of player development in 2001.
Boston seemed to be taking a bit of a gamble in hiring him since he had no Major League experience as a pitching coach.
``I think we needed to have the ability, if everybody could, to look past maybe a lack of experience at this level because of how special a person he is,’’ Francona said. ``I think he’s proven that and will continue to. He’s developed relationships. The young guys, the veteran guys, they’re all running to him. Those relationships will do nothing but grow. There’s a big trust factor there that he’s already accomplished. I think it's phenomenal.’’
After his strong outing Monday night, Curt Schilling spoke about how Farrell recommended that Schiling move his fingers three inches on the grip for his splitter. Schilling then went out and had the best splitter he has had in some time, to the point where he threw the splitter more than 30 times.
Tuesday, Josh Beckett made a hugely successful return from the disabled list, then related how he had received much help in returning for the avulsion on the middle finger of his pitching hand. He singled out Farrell for spending so much time with him, including working with him at the park at 1:30 in the afternoon.
The Boston pitchers have a 3.62 ERA, second best in the league. They have walked only 154, third best in the AL and struck out 360, tied for third in that department. They have allowed only 38 home runs, second to Seattle’s 32.
-Kevin Youkilis, 21-game hitting streak, going 41 for 93 (.441) during the stretch
-Mike Lowell, 21-game Fenway hitting streak, going 32 for 78 (.410) during last 21 home games
-Dustin Pedroia, nine-game hitting streak, going 13 for 29 (.448) during the stretch
-Alex Cora, 1 for his last 13 and 4 for his last 29 (.138)
Red Sox vs. Paul Byrd
-Coco Crisp, 5 for 9 (.556)
-Mike Lowell, 7 for 17 (.412), 1 HR
-Jason Varitek, 5 for 15 (.333), 1 HR
-Alex Cora, 2 for 6 (.333)
-David Ortiz, 7 for 23 (.304), 2 HR
-J.D. Drew, 2 for 7 (.286)
-Manny Ramirez, 1 for 11 (.091), 1 HR
-Kevin Youkilis, 0 for 6
-At 36-15, the Red Sox have tied their second-best record in franchise history after 51 games. The best ever was 41-10 in 1946.
-The Red Sox have led the division for 45 straight days, the longest such streak for the club since 2002.
-Daisuke Matsuzaka's six-game winning streak is the longest by a Red Sox rookie pitcher since Aaron Sele won six straight in 1993.
Of all players born in 1972, Ramirez has the most home runs in his career (478, 64 more than second-place Carlos Delgado), the most games played (1,867, one more than second-place Shawn Green), the most runs scored (1,284, 63 more than second-place Chipper Jones), the most hits (2,117, 11 more than second-place Garret Anderson), the most doubles (447, seven more than second-place Anderson), and the most RBI (1,547, 228 more than second-place Delgado).
Of all players in major league history born on May 30, only one other man -- Amos Rusie, "The Hoosier Thunderbolt," who pitched for the New York Giants in the late 19th century -- is in the Hall of Fame. Manny will make it two some day.
In today's notes column by Paul Kenyon and Kevin McNamara, Terry Francona describees the rationale for putting Manny Ramirez at designated hitter in David Ortiz's absence, while putting the defensively challenged Wily Mo Pena in left. Francona sees it as a way to rest Ramirez -- who has played in 49 games, more than any other Red Sox player -- while keeping his dangerous bat in the lineup at the same time.
"It's the perfect chance," Francona says. "We actually told him he could do that in Texas on Sunday, but he wanted to play left field. Anytime we can keep his bat, that can only help us in the long run. Anytime you can keep the bat and keep his legs refreshed, that's good."
Francona has gone with Ramirez at DH and Pena in left for both of the games in the Cleveland series so far. On Sunday in Texas, Ramirez stayed in left while Eric Hinske served as designated hitter. Ortiz is expected back in the lineup tonight.
Projo Sox Talk on the farm: Craig Hansen has forearm injury
Joe McDonald, who has been at McCoy Stadium covering the Pawtucket Red Sox, is today's guest on Projo SoxTalk with Art Martone. Click here to liste to the audio file. McDonald breaks a bit of news: that relief pitcher Craig Hansen, whom the Sox would like to bring back up to Boston at some point, left last night's game with soreness in his forearm. McDonald also has lots of praise for Jon Lester's effort last night, and some discouraging reports about Mike Timlin's attempts to get back to Fenway.
Following are some excerpts from the conversation.
On Hansen last night: "When Craig Hansen came in to pitch, he did not look good at all, and then all of a sudden [PawSox manager] Ron Johnson went out to the mound and took him out. And RJ said afterwards that [Hansen had] experienced cramping in his high forearm, near the elbow. So it's going to be interesting to see what happens with that today -- if Hansen's fine, or if he can pitch tonight."
On Lester: "Last night he threw 79 pitches -- he was scheduled for 80, but he threw 79 pitches -- he went five full innings, scoreless innings again, and once he's able to get up to 95-100 pitches, Boston should call this guy up. ...
Last night his curveball was probably the best I've ever seen, including when he was with Boston last year."
On Timlin's shaky appearance last night: "You could tell he struggled. He said that he felt good; he said that he felt that he had his legs under him. But it's been two appearances in a row where he hasn't looked that sharp. He's scheduled to pitch for Pawtucket again on Thursday, so we'll see what happens."
McDonald says an extended rehab might be in Timlin's future if the Red Sox don't see improvement.
Kevin Youkilis, taking a cue from teammate Curt Schilling, yesterday unveiled his new blog on MLB's Web site. Youkilis started things off with a smackdown of all those people who said he didn't run well -- after all, he was posting on the day after a stand-up, inside-the-park home run. And yes, it did seem like Youk was running well. By the way, the name of the first baseman's blog: "Yooooouuuuukkkkk." At least for now; he's asking Red Sox fans to weigh in and help him pick a name.
"It’s a good time to be a player on the Red Sox right now," Youkilis wrote. "Winning makes everything a lot more fun as a player. Everybody gets along great when you’re winning. There are a lot of positive things happening with our club at this point."
So far, blogging has not slowed down the Sox' hottest player, who smacked a double and a home run to extend his hit streak to 21 games on the night after his first musing.
''We suddenly have a San Diego weather mass over our region. The tunnels are open again and you can get where you are going in no time. The Patriots have a chance to go 16-0 and it feels like we all might win the lottery. Next thing you know, some dietician will discover that hot fudge sundaes cause you to lose weight. You'll be able to drink water from the Charles, all college tuition will be free, and the Celtics will experience good luck.''
Such is life in New England when the Red Sox are winning. And winning. And winning.
ONE MAN'S CEILING IS ANOTHER MAN'S FLOOR: Folks hereabouts would still be enjoying life even if the Yankees weren't unraveling like a cheap suit. But the fact that they are, well . . .
The Yanks may just have hit rock bottom last night. As the New York Post's George King reports, they took infield practice for the first time all season and then Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez made errors that led to runs; they were shut down offensively by Shaun Marcum, one night after being shut down offensively by Dustin McGowan; and Andy Pettitte fell asleep on the mound and allowed Aaron Hill to steal home in a 3-2 loss at Toronto. "It's tough to keep positive, to tell you the truth," Jorge Posada said as the Yanks fell 14 1/2 games back.
WE HAVE A DATE: Roger Clemens will return to the Yankees next Monday in Chicago. (New York Daily News) It means Clemens won't pitch against the Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend, but, as Joe Torre said, ''I don't think that series needs any more hype than it gets every time we play it, whether it's at Fenway or at the Stadium.''
AREN'T YOU LISTENING??? For at least the third time this season -- or at least the third time I'm aware of -- Clemens' old foe Dave Stewart trashes the Rocket on his blog.
Dave: You don't like him. You never have. We get it. Okay?
MRS. ROCKET: Debbie Clemens talked to the New York Post about her husband. Nothing earth-shattering, but some interesting tidbits about Clemens' work habits and his ability to teach baseball to people at every age level.
Game Story: Beckett returns, pitches Sox past Indians
With the way this season is going for the Red Sox, what else did you expect to happen when Josh Beckett made his return?
Even a potentially major problem somehow manages to come up roses for the Sox these days and it happened with Beckett, too.
After missing two starts while on the disabled list to care for an avulsion on the middle finger of his pitching hand, Beckett returned last night and picked up right where he left off. Which is to say, he threw another outstanding game.
He went seven innings, allowing only four base runners and two runs, as the Sox won their fifth straight, 4-2 over Cleveland.
``For him to not really skip a beat is pretty phenomenal,’’ said Sox manager Terry Francona. ``He came out right from the get go and established all three of his pitches, just like he’s been doing. Thats a team thats a pretty good hitting team and he pitched a heck of a game.’’
Beckett was thrilled with the way his situation was handled. That is, that he was held back longer than he might have been.
``I think we made the smart decision on that deal,’’ he said. ``I think the rainouts helped us make that decision. That might have been a blessing in disguise having me miss that second start not just one.’’
Beckett is now 8-0 on the season. He becomes the 10th pitcher in Red Sox history to win his first eight decisions. The last was reliever Rich Garces in 2000. The last starter to so it was Roger Clemens, who began 14-0 in 1986.
It is a sign of well well he has pitched all season that no one even attempted to say this was his best outing.
``He could have been a little sharper with some of his pitches,’’ said catcher Jason Varitek, ``but overall he was very good.’’
In one way, the physical setback turned into an example on how Beckett has matured. Francona spoke about how hard the pitcher worked while he was on the DL.
``It’s really a testament to his work ethic,’’ Francona said. ``He went down there the last two weeks and did a lot of things. . . You can work all you want but its not a game situation.
``He didn’t just go through the motions on any of those days. He did everything in his power to be the same pitcher as when he left two weeks ago. He and John (Farrell, the pitching coach) together, they did a great job of staying prepared and staying in sync. Being able to throw all his pitches and not being rusty or not being too strong.’’
Beckett spoke about how the team not only had its medical staff work with him but brought in specialists.
``This is a tribute to our training staff, the doctors, my pitching coach sticking with me,’’ Beckett said. ``John Farrell was here at 1:30 some days so I could go out and throw five innings. Our bullpen catcher. Everybody’s been real supportive.’’
Beckett has had a history of hand problems, which is why there were serious concerns when the avulsion problem cropped up May 14. In his return, he threw 91 pitches, 58 for strikes, and perhaps most importantly of all, used everything in his repertoire. That included his curve, the pitch that brings on the problems.
Beckett showed no reluctance going with his breaking ball. He used his curve often and effectively from the start. He struck out leadoff hitter Grady Sizemore on a 96 mile-an-hour fastball in the first, then whiffed Sizemore again on a nasty breaking ball in the fourth. He completed the hat trick on Sizemore in the sixth, this time getting him looking at a 93 mile-an-hour fastball on the outside corner.
The Indians got to Beckett in the seventh, after a long bottom of the sixth that included two Boston runs, the first on a Kevin Youkilis home run, a double by Mike Lowell and three straight walks by reliever Fernando Cabrera.
In the Cleveland seventh, Peralta got on again with a single to right. He scored on a triple to right by Hafner, a drive that bounced between J.D. Drew and the line and went all the way back to the stands near the visitors bullpen.
Hafner came home on a grounder to first by Victory Martinez. Beckett ended the inning, and his night, by striking out Trot Nixon, his sevength strikeout of the night.
Beckett knows he is not home free.
``It’s something were going to have to monitor all the time,’’ he said. ``It’s the same way weve always done it.’’
Down the road there might be problems. Right now, though, just about everything with Beckett and the Sox is positive.
Gary Allan is helping Jon Lester return to the majors.
No, Allan is not a pitching guru, a sports psychologist or a doctor. He’s a country artist.
As the young left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox made his fifth rehab start for the PawSox last night, Lester made his way to the mound to start the game against the Columbus Clippers with the song Right Where I Need to Be blasting from the sound system at McCoy Stadium.
Gary Allan sings the song and Jon Lester takes it to heart. So much so, he asked the PawSox staff to play the song during his outing.
The southpaw worked five scoreless innings (79 pitches, 50 strikes) and allowed just four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He had total command of the strike zone and located all of his pitches, especially his off-speed stuff that kept the Columbus hitters off balance during his outing.
Lester couldn’t have picked a better song to pump him up. The lyrics to the beginning of the song are as follows:
There’s a plane flyin’ outta here tonight Destination New Orleans Boss man says my big promotion’s on the line He says that’s right where I need to be
His return destination is Boston. His boss man is Theo Epstein. And, the promotion is well-deserved.
The song continues about being on the road, which Lester has gotten used to during his rehab this season. It began in spring training, continued on to Single-A Greenville (0-0 with a 2.08 ERA in three starts for the Drive) and he’s been outstanding every since he arrived here in late April.
Besides a brief setback with cramping in his left forearm on May 2, the 23-year-old hurler has allowed just one run in 132/3 innings during his last three outings for the PawSox.
Even though the final score was 5-4 in favor of Columbus, the main focus of last night’s game at McCoy Stadium was the pitching.
After Lester’s solid outing, relievers Craig Hansen, Craig Breslow, Mike Timlin, Manny Delcarmen, Travis Hughes and Bryan Corey took over.
Hansen struggled and allowed two runs on two hits with one walk in one-third of an inning before Breslow did his job in two-thirds of an inning with one hit and one strikeout.
Timlin, who is continuing his rehab from shoulder tendinitis, struggled a bit in the seventh, but got out of the inning relatively unscathed. He loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and a walk. PawSox pitching coach Mike Griffin then made a trip to the mound after 12 pitches to talk with veteran reliever. On the next pitch the Clippers’ D’Angelo Jimenez line a shot to shallow right field for a base hit that scored a run.
Timlin retired the next three batters he faced, with some help of the defense behind him, and was finished after he threw 23 pitches (13 for strikes) and allowed one run on three hits. Delcarmen, just back from a brief stint in Boston, worked a scoreless eighth inning with and surrendered one hit with two walks and a strikeout.
The game entered the ninth inning with the PawSox holding a 4-3 advantage, but Hughes gave up back-to-back solo shots as Columbus posted the victory.
In the end, the most important aspect of last night’s game was Lester’s outing and he knows where he wants to be.
BOSTON - The streaking Red Sox rode seven strong innings from Josh Beckett and homers from Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis to register a 4-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians tonight at Fenway Park. The first-place Sox have now won a season-high five games and six of their last seven.
Beckett came off the disabled list earlier today to make his first start since tearing skin off the tip of his right middle finger back on May 13. He gave up a first inning single but retired 16 of the next 17 hitters to cruise into the seventh inning with a 4-0 lead. The Indians scored two runs off Beckett in the seventh before he left the game after scattering three hits and striking out seven batters.
Relievers Brendan Donnelly and Javier Lopez worked the eighth inning and Japanese lefty Hideki Okajima picked up his fourth save of the season in the ninth. Beckett earned the win and remains the only unbeaten (8-0) starting pitcher in baseball.
The Red Sox scored a single run in the first inning off losing pitcher Jeremy Sowers (1-5) when Julio Lugo reached on a bunt single and the sizzling hot Youkilis laced an RBI double off the left field wall. The Sox didn’t hit Sowers again until the fifth inning when Varitek crushed his fifth home run of the season high over the Monster Seats in left.
Boston’s second homer of the game came an inning later when Youkilis hit a hot liner that cleared the wall in left. The Sox extended the lead to 4-0 when Mike Lowell doubled and Indian pitchers walked the next three hitters to force in a run.
Youkilis remained the hottest hitter in baseball. His two hits extended his hitting streak to 21 games and he’s had two or more hits in nine straight games. The last Red Sox to deliver two or more hits in nine straight games was Jim Rice back in his MVP season of 1978.
The Red Sox and Indians wrap up their three-game series Wednesday night at Fenway.
Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin struggled a bit, but got out of the inning relatively unscathed. He loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and a walk.
PawSox pitching coach Mike Griffin then made a trip to the mound after 12 pitches to talk with Timlin. The next pitch the Clippers' D'Angelo Jimenez line a shot to shallow right field for a base hit that scored a run.
Timlin retired the next three batters he faced with some help of the defense behind him. Overall he threw 23 pitches (13 for strikes) and allowed one run on three hits.
Lester threw 16 pitches (11 for strikes) and allowed a single with two strikeouts. He has reached 79 pitches (50 for strikes) and is done for the night. The left-hander had complete control of the strike zone tonight and his off-speed pitches were nasty.
Overall he worked five scoreless innings, and allowed just four hits. He struck out six and walked only two.
First inning: 18 pitches (10 strikes) and two hits.
Second inning: 14 pitches (seven strikes).
Third inning: 11 pitches (nine strikes).
Fourth inning: 20 pitches (13 strikes) and allowed a double.
Fifth inning: 16 pitches (11 strikes) and allowed a single.
Lester topped out at 95 MPH on the gun, and his breaking stuff fell off the table at 70.
It was another solid outing.
Lester is in the midst of a solid outing. He threw 20 pitches (13 for strikes) in the fourth inning and allowed a double to right field by Clippers' D'Angelo Jimenez. Lester struck out one and walked one. His curve is nasty tonight and he's totally commanding the inside of the plate.
Don Zimmer isn't ready to give Boston the American League East Division title — at least not yet.
“I would say it's early to say that, but things better start happening awful quick because the Red Sox got an outstanding pitching staff and they've got a good team,” the Tampa Bay Devil Rays senior adviser and former Yankees bench coach said Tuesday. “I would say at this time, it's going to be very tough for anybody, not just the Yankees, to catch the Red Sox.”
The Yankees started Tuesday tied for last in the AL East with the Devil Rays, 131/2 games behind Boston. Second-place Baltimore was 111/2 games off the pace.
Zimmer, who has spent 59 years in baseball, was Yankees manager Joe Torre's bench coach when New York won four World Series championships. He also managed Boston in 1978 when the Red Sox held a large lead in August before losing a one-game playoff to the Yankees for the AL East title.
“Joe Torre right now is going through a stretch that I don't think he's ever had to face,” Zimmer said. “With the pitching staff, the way it's happened. They're waiting for (Roger) Clemens at 44 years old, you don't know how that's going to turn out. One thing about Joe, Joe knows how to handle situations.”
Zimmer believes Torre will not get too up or down as the Yankees try to move up in the playoff race.
“Joe's not going to get excited one way or another,” Zimmer said. “Whether they can put something together, there's a lot of teams that will have to put something together to catch the Red Sox. Joe Torre is not going to do anything different than he's done in the past 12 years. We'll just wait and see how it ends up.”
Lester threw 18 pitches (10 for strikes) in the top of the first inning and allowed two hits with a walk. The left-hander allowed a bunt base hit to Columbus lead-off man Brandon Watson. Lester closed out the inning with a 93 MPH fastball on the inner half to get the Clippers' Michael Restovich.
PawSox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has played 22 consecutive games since he was recalled from Double-A Portland on May 4, but he's out of the lineup tonight.
Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson said Ellsbury has a little stiffness in his back, but it’s nothing to be concerned with. In fact, Johnson originally had Ellsbury in tonight’s lineup but felt it was better to give the young outfielder the night off.
As a result David Murphy, who has been playing left since Ellsbury arrival here, will be back in center and Bobby Scales with play left field.
Scales “is a very valuable guy because he gives everybody a chance to have a day off,” said Johnson. “The weather is getting a little bit warmer, and it’s really easy for me, as a manager, to fall in love with my outfield and run them out there every single day.”
Johnson said he was looking for a day to give Ellsbury a day off, but he can play tonight if needed.
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester will make fifth rehab start for the PawSox tonight. The left-hander is slated to work six innings or 80 pitches, which ever comes first.
Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin continues his rehab from right-shoulder tendinitis, and he's scheduled to work one inning without a pitch count.
I'll have live updates on both Lester and Timlin. . .
Roger Clemens is ready to return to the New York Yankees' rotation and is likely to start at the Chicago White Sox next Monday.
Clemens pitched six shutout innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday. Torre said before Tuesday's game against Toronto that he'll stay with Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte as his starters for this weekend's series at AL East-leading Boston.
“I'm not disappointed that he's not pitching at Fenway,” Torre said. “I don't think that series needs any more hype than it gets every time we play it, whether it's in Fenway or at the Stadium. You'd obviously be tempted if you had a kid pitching and you can replace him with Roger Clemens. When you have Wang, Moose and Andy, there's really not the temptation to do that.”
Torre wasn't ready to finalize his decision.
“Until I talk to him personally, it's tough to pick a particular day,” he said.
If Clemens is put on the major league roster Monday, he would receive $18,207,665 this season, a prorated share of his $28,000,022 salary.
-Kevin Youkilis, 20-game hit streak, going 39 for 89 (.438) during the stretch
-Dustin Pedroia, 8-game hit streak, is 24 for 56 (.429) over last 18 games
-Manny Ramirez, 10 for his last 23 (.435) with three doubles, a triple and two home runs
-Julio Lugo, 3 for his last 23 (.130)
-Wily Mo Pena, 4 for his last 20 (.200)
Indians vs. Josh Beckett
-Travis Hafner, 3 for 3 (1.000), 1 HR
-Victor Martinez, 2 for 5 (.400), 1 HR
-Grady Sizemore, 2 for 6 (.333)
-Jhonny Peralta, 0 for 2
-David Dellucci, 0 for 6
-Trot Nixon, Josh Barfield, Ryan Garko and Mike Rouse have never faced Beckett
Red Sox vs. Jeremy Sowers
-Kevin Youkilis, 2 for 3 (.667)
-Coco Crisp, 0 for 1
-Mike Lowell, 0 for 2
-Wily Mo Pena, 0 for 2
-Manny Ramirez, 0 for 2
-J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek have never faced Sowers
-At 19-7, the Red Sox are on pace for their fifth-best May record in club history.
Pre-Game Red Sox notes for May 29.
Cleveland @ Boston; 7 p.m., NESN
-- David Ortiz is out of the lineup for the third straight game due to sore hamstrings. He says he can run fine but is sore and it’s uncomfortable when he’s in his hitting crouch.
Manager Terry Francona said he’s trying to be smart with Ortiz and not rush him back and risk any serious injury.
''He’s improving but not to the point where I felt comfortable playing him today,’’ he said. ''We sat around and talked about it last night for awhile. I kind of tried to tell him because he feels such a responsibility to be out there that I don’t want him to hurt himself. By trying to get this under control, we don’t have to fight it all year. I trust his judgment, too. I know he wants to be out there, I know he’ll be out there so we’re just going to keep an eye on him.’’
With Ortiz out, the Sox have chosen to shift Manny Ramirez to designated hitter and insert Wily Mo Pena in left. Francona sees this as a great opportunity to rest Ramirez, who leads the Sox with 49 games played.
''It’s the perfect chance,’’ he said. ''We actually told him he could do that in Texas on Sunday but he wanted to play left field. Anytime we can keep his bat, that can only help us in the long run. Anytime you can keep the bat and keep his legs refreshed, that’s good.’’
-- Kevin Youkilis is batting third in Ortiz’ absence. He’s riding a 20-game hit streak, leads the team with a .354 average and is playing as well as anyone on the team. His value is clearly on the rise.
''Wherever somebody sits, we put Youk to balance out our lineup,’’ said Francona. ''It’s been tremendous because he’s such a professional hitter that he can cover us if it’s the 3-hole, the 5-hole, the 4-hole, hitting second. You put him anywhere and he gives you a great at-bat and it seems to balance out that lineup.’’
Youkilis is hitting .438 (39-for-89) during his hit streak. He is batting .408 in May (42-for-103). His inside-the-park homer on Monday was the 48th by a Red Sox at Fenway Park.
-- Another player on the rise is second baseman Dustin Pedroia. He has hit safely in a career-best 8 straight games and has seen his average skyrocket from .182 to .298 over his last 18 games. He had three hits in Monday night’s win over the Indians.
Francona was asked if Pedroia is exceeding expectations.
''I think if you go back and look at all the questions and answers, I think we said, 'Young kid playing here in April, you might not see the player you’re gonna see.' I think now we’re seeing the player we hoped for. I actually think that he and (Alex) Cora (combined for) a real good second baseman. What they give us both together has been phenomenal.’’
Cora got off to a great start filling in for Pedroia and is still hitting .319 in eight fewer games than Pedroia. There were rumblings of elevating Cora back in April but Francona said the patience the club showed is paying off.
''I know there was some clamoring to give up on Pedroia early. I think that would’ve been a big, big mistake,’’ he said. ''He’s a pretty good player. He knows how to play the game.’’
Pedroia has recorded multiple hits in his last two games and 3 of his last 4. He has eight multiple-hit games in May.
-- All eyes will be on Josh Beckett tonight. He's making his first start in two weeks after slightly tearing the skin on the middle finger of his right hand.
Projo SoxTalk with Art Martone: Looking ahead to Beckett
Today on Projo SoxTalk, Art Martone looks at the highlights of last night's Red Sox win over Cleveland, including Curt Schilling's impressive outing, the questionable call that helped Boston out in the ninth, and Trot Nixon's nice reception. He also tells fans what they should look for from Josh Beckett tonight, and speculates about what might happen should Beckett struggle. Click here to listen to the audio file.
MISTAKEN IDENTITY? Curt Schilling gives his normally insightful game breakdown on 38pitches.com, but, in the midst of it all, creates a mystery. ''Pre game meeting went well,'' he writes, ''as Dave Jauss (our scout who’d been following the Indians) was in town and I asked him to sit in and give me his thoughts on approaching this lineup.'' Dave Jauss? The Dave Jauss I know, the one who'd been in the Red Sox organization in the 1990s and early 2000s, is Grady Little's bench coach in Los Angeles (and I just saw him the other night while watching the end of the Dodgers' extra-inning win over the Cubs). Or are there two Dave Jausses?
JUST IN CASE YOU HAD ANY DOUBTS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THIS GUY WAS A POLITICIAN . . . New Mexico governor (and presidential candidate) Bill Richardson claims to be both a Red Sox and Yankee fan. (www.newsmax.com) Bill, Bill, Bill . . . let me put this in terms you can understand. That's like claiming to be both a Democrat and a Republican. Get it now?
Game Story: Schilling pitches Red Sox past Indians
So maybe Super Curt isn't that bad after all.
Answering his critics with one of his strongest outings of the season, Curt Schilling dominated the Cleveland Indians and pitched the Red Sox to a 5-3 win last night at Fenway Park.
The win is Boston's fourth in a row and fifth in its last six games.
Schilling was superb from his opening pitch, baffling the Indians with a sharp, diving split-fingered fastball, a 90-plus mile an hour fastball and a slick change-up. When he left the game with a 4-1 lead, the Fenway fans gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.
Boston's shaky middle relief corps (excepting Hideki Okajima, of course) made those fans and Schilling sweat once the big righty hit the showers. J.C. Romero walked the only two hitters he faced to open the eighth inning. Javier Lopez came on to get two big outs but one was a sacrifice fly by old friend Trot Nixon to center that plated a run and sliced Schilling's lead to 4-2. Brendan Donnelly retired the final batter in the eighth but the ninth didn't go smoothly either, even with Jonathan Papelbon taking the mound.
The Sox closer surrendered a painful leadoff walk and then a single and an RBI double that cut Boston's lead to 5-3 and brought Cleveland star Grady Sizemore to the plate with two runners in scoring position. But that's when Papelbon found his game.
First he got Sizemore to pop out to third base. Then Casey Blake swung at a two-strike pitch that clearly hit him on his hands. The umpire at first ruled that Blake was to take first base but he was over-ruled and Blake was called out.
``Originally they ruled it hit him, which it did,'' said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. ``Our contention was that he swung, which he did. That's what they checked and fortunately for us (the call was changed). That's big, big for us. We were in a bind.''
With the call going in his favor, Papelbon responded by blowing away Travis Hafner with first a 96 and then a 97-mile an hour fastball to end the game and secure his 13th save of the season.
The tense moments nearly over-shadowed an excellent performance by Schilling. He struck out a season-high 10 hitters, most with a sharp split-fingered fastball that fell from the strike zone at the last possible moment. The last time Schilling struck out 10 or more hitters was last June 24th.
``He really threw in my opinion, his best split of the year,'' said Francona. ``He really pitched. To put up zeroes right to the end against a team that good, that's a really good effort.''
Schilling was coming off his worst performance of the season last week at Yankee Stadium when the Yanks scored pounded out 12 hits and scored six runs over six innings to win easily, 6-1.
The Yankees jumped Schilling, with Hideki Matsui slamming a 2-run homer in the first inning and light-hitting Doug Mientkiewicz hitting a solo blast in the fourth inning.
The next day, Schilling was treated to some stark criticism during his weekly Boston radio appearance. Detractors pointed out that Schilling's most recent outings showed a disturbing trend where he wasn't striking hitters out (an average of five per start) and couldn't keep them from putting good wood (7.4 hits per start) on his pitches. A proud, or even cocky veteran, Schilling didn't take well to the criticism.
He admitted to not being happy with his performance but to bounce back with such a strong effort against a strout offensive team like the Indians is certainly a positive sign. He says some heavy work with pitching coach John Farrell in recent days led to a revitalized split-fingered fastball.
``I haven't had that split since probably 2001 or '02. Not even close,'' he said. Schilling said Farrell worked on several slight changes to his motion that he made sure to bring out to the mound. ``It's been a rough couple weeks for me from a performance standpoint. Anyone who knows me knows that it's 24-7 on my mind,'' he said. ``We made some adjustments over the last seven, eight, 10 days. Hopefully I can look back on the last four days as a turning point for me, physically and mentally.''
The Red Sox gave Schilling all the support he needed in the middle innings. They scored two in the fourth off the Indians' starter, Cliff Lee (2-2) when Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell all doubled. Drew knocked in Youkilis and Lowell plated Drew to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
Manny Ramirez made it 3-0 in the fifth with a line drive rocket homer to left.
Cleveland's only uprising off Schilling came in the sixth inning when Blake doubled to left and Victor Martinez singled him in.
The Sox added a significant, and thrilling, insurance run in the seventh when Kevin Youkilis drove a Roberto Hernandez pitch to the triangle in center that bounded away from Sizemore. Youkilis flew around the bases and giddily ran through the windmill sign from third base coach De Marlo Hale and easily scored on an inside-the-park home run. That pushed the Sox' lead to 4-1 and allowed Schilling to leave with a comfortable lead.
The shaky bullpen nearly blew the lead but the Red Sox winning ways continued.
Behind seven innings of one-run pitching from Curt Schilling and home runs by Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox won their series opener with Cleveland, 5-3.
Jonathan Paplebon had a rocky outing but picked up his 13th save of the season to seal the victory.
Schilling scattered six hits over his 117-pitch start, a nice recovery from his last start, when he gave up 12 hits in a loss to the Yankees.
J.D. Drew broke out of his slump with an RBI double in the fourth; Ramirez had a solo home run to the Monster seats in the fifth, and Youkilis had his first career inside-the-park homer in the seventh.
We're not sure what just happened -- we're waiting for an explanation -- but we're not sure that the call made on Casey Blake just now was the right one.
Blake was just charged with a strikeout officially, but in live action and on replay it was clear that the Jonathan Paplebon's pitch hit off something, whether it was the end of Blake's bat or his hands.
PawSox starter David Pauley knows that all too well, and he’s quickly learned how to harness it in order to control a game and have success at the same time. Last night was a perfect example.
The soon-to-be 24-year-old (June 17) worked 6 1/3 innings last night and allowed one unearned run on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts to help Pawtucket to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Clippers at McCoy Stadium.
After allowing a lead-off single to Clippers Brandon Watson, followed by an error, Pauley retired the next 11 batters he faced.
With Pawtucket hanging on to a one-run lead, Pauley loaded the bases with one out. He collected his third strikeout of the game for the inning’s second out before making a fielding error on a chopper to the right side that allowed a run to score.
A year ago, the game would have spun out of control on him, but he didn’t allow that to happen last night. He composed himself and snared another come-backer and made the play to end the inning.
“He had a real nice outing,” said Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson. “I was really impressed with his pitch efficiency and the command of his stuff. I was very pleased with his mound presence and composure. I’m seeing a lot of maturity come out with all of our young pitchers, and you saw it again tonight.”
Pauley was able to throw his curveball for strikes, a pitch he says hasn’t been working for him as much as he would like. The right-hander was able to keep the ball down in the zone and controlled the game at his pace.
“I had good stuff tonight from my eyes,” said Pauley, who improves to 2-1. “It’s something I’ve taken on myself this year being able to control the game at my own pace and not let the situation dictate what’s going on. I’ve told myself to ‘take a breath and get this out.’ Slow the game back down and going after the hitters instead of worrying about what could happen.”
After he got out of a jam relatively unscathed in the fifth, he retired the next four batters he faced before he was given the hook after 90 pitches (57 strikes). The PawSox bullpen of Craig Breslow, Edgar Martinez and Travis Hughes (third save of the season) finished the job to help Pawtucket snap a two-game losing skid.
The necessary offense for the PawSox was provided by Joe McEwing and Ed Rogers, who accounted for a RBI each.
For Pauley, it was his most efficient outing of the season.
He’s based his success this year with the experiences from a season ago in the Red Sox organization as he pitched at three different levels, including Double-A, the majors and Triple-A in that order. Pauley made his major-league debut for the Red Sox in Toronto on May 31 and eventually made two others, including a stellar performance at Yankee Stadium before he was optioned to Pawtucket on June 11.
After a 1-3 record with a 5.54 ERA in nine starts with the PawSox in 2006, his season ended with a forearm strain on Aug. 2. Basically, it was a season of ups and downs for Pauley and when he looks back, he realizes it was an invaluable learning experience.
“It was a big help,” he said. “When you get put into a situation like that, there are a lot of things you have to deal with up there. You have to learn over time and when you get out there consistently, you know what pitches to go to and you’re not stressed about what’s going to happen.”
Kevin Youkilis just drilled an inside-the-park homerun to the triangle in centerfield. The ball bounced off the sidewall of the Sox' bullpen and rolled in front of the garage door before it was picked up.
Youkilis showed some giddy-up getting around the bases, and was at third before the ball was fielded. He came into home plate standing up.
It was the first inside-the-park homer for Boston since man-of-the-night Trot Nixon had one on July 15, 2005 against the Yankees at Fenway Park, and the first that Cleveland has allowed since Sept. 17, 2004 against Kansas City.
The last Red Sox player to have an inside-the-park homer against the Indians was John Kennedy, on July 5, 1970. Colleague Bob Ryan of the Globe tells us it was Kennedy's first at-bat with the Red Sox.
Clemens throws six shutout innings in Triple-A start
Roger Clemens pitched six shutout innings in Triple-A on Monday, leaving to a standing ovation from an overflow crowd in what the New York Yankees hope is his final start in the minors.
Clemens showed improved command from his last outing at Double-A, this time giving up two hits and two walks for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 44-year-old ace struck out six against Toledo in his third tuneup.
New York began the day 121/2 games behind Boston in the AL East. On Sunday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team would evaluate Clemens' performance Monday before deciding when he would join them.
All told, the seven-time Cy Young winner threw 89 pitches, 58 for strikes. His two walks came on full-count pitches and he was primarily in the strike zone when he needed to be. He struck out Timo Perez to end the first, and fanned at least one batter in each inning except the sixth.
Clemens gave up a sharply hit single in the second and a ground single in the sixth, and never allowed more than one runner in an inning.
Clemens' control was a concern at Trenton last week when he walked four and allowed six hits and three runs over 5 1-3 innings.
In the opening inning against Toledo, Clemens got two weak grounders and struck out Perez on a split-finger fastball.
The second inning started with a 10-pitch at-bat by Ryan Raburn — Clemens had thrown a total of 12 pitches the entire first inning — before a popout. With two outs, Mike Hessman got the Mud Hens' first hit of the game, lining a 1-2 pitch into left field for a single. Ramon Santiago then struck out.
In the sixth, the Mud Hens got their second hit on a ground ball that first baseman Eric Duncan knocked down but couldn't turn into an out.
Raburn grounded out to end the inning, sending Clemens off the field to a loud ovation from the crowd of 11,310, a number that's 1,000 over capacity at PNC Field, where the team sold standing-room-only tickets for the first time this season.
Trot Nixon is on the field right now for a special pre-game ceremony in which he and wife Kathryn are receiving the 2007 Jimmy Fund Award from the Red Sox for their many years of service to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.
Head of the Jimmy Fund, Mike Andrews, Sox principal owner John Henry and manager Terry Francona joined the Nixons on the field as they received their plaque, and a video retrospective of Nixon's work with the Jimmy Fund and from his days with Boston were shown. On the message board it says, "Welcome back and Welcome Always Kathryn and Trot Nixon."
Kathryn, who was crying during the presentation, threw out the game's ceremonial first pitch to Doug Mirabelli.
They received a very warm ovation from the Fenway crowd.
Former Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon just held a lengthy chat with the media, though this was from the visitor's dugout at Fenway, as Nixon is back in Boston for the first time since signing with Cleveland in the offseason.
A member of the Red Sox organization for 13 years, Nixon said he had never been in the visitor's clubhouse until today. Actually, navigating the Indians' home clubhouse ("It's huge," he said) was one of the things that took some adjusting to for Nixon, along with learning everyone's names and jobs in the Cleveland organization.
The rightfielder, remembered for his pine-tar covered batting helmet and all-out hustle on the field, said he harbors no ill will toward the Red Sox for not signing him and instead signing the very expensive -- and seriously slumping -- J.D. Drew.
After undergoing back surgery and not being signed by Cleveland until Jan. 19, Nixon sort of fell in love with baseball all over again.
"What happened to me in the offseason, it opened my eyes to how special this game is, how fun it is," he said. "It opened my eyes to how much I love this game."
Nixon would have been open to starting the season in triple-A and then moving up to the big leagues if that is how things had turned out, but he is "very thankful" for the opportunity the Indians have given him and is glad that the team is having so much success early (their 31-17 record is second to Boston in the A.L.).
"It's a phenomenal group of guys, veterans, young guys, young guys that have been here for four or five years. There's a tremendous amount of talent in the organization," he said.
PawSox manager Ron Johnson is never critical of his team publicly. No matter the score, win or lose, he calls every game a developmental process and quickly looks ahead to the next game the next day.
Pawtucket, however, has lost two straight to the Syracuse Chiefs, including a 9-2 drubbing at McCoy Stadium Sunday night.
“We just got whooped pretty good,” said Johnson. “We'll turn the page because we've got a new club (Columbus) coming in and let's get Syracuse out of here because they're starting to heat up. We'll let them beat up on some other staffs around the league and see what we can do tomorrow.”
The Chiefs stuck it to the PawSox on Saturday night, too, and scored four runs in the top of the ninth for a come-from-behind 10-7 victory.
Last night Pawtucket was done in by Syracuse starter Michael MacDonald, who earned his first Triple-A win by throwing seven scoreless innings. He allowed just four hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
“He did a real nice job,” said Johnson. “We didn't do much. We only had six (total) hits. We didn't square up a lot of balls. We didn't do too much tonight offensively.”
In his first appearance since his spot-start for the Red Sox last Saturday, Pawtucket starter Devern Hansack dropped to 1-5 after allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts
“He didn't pitch bad,” said Johnson. “He'll build on that next time he's back out there. He's been back for seven days (from Boston) and he was a tick off with his command. He really didn't establish his rhythm with all of his pitches. But that's the development of a young guy.”
Sometimes when players come back from a big-league stint, no matter how long or short, there's always a chance for a hangover. Johnson said he doesn't see that with Hansack.
“It doesn't appear to be,” said the manager. “He's upbeat. I always watch how guys interact with their teammates when they come back [and he's been fine].”
PawSox pitcher Abe Alvarez has been delegated to the bullpen of late due to Jon Lester's rehab presence in Pawtucket. Alvarez worked two innings and allowed two runs on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
After Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin made his second rehab appearance and allowed two runs on two hits in 2/3 of an inning in the seventh, PawSox reliever Mike Burns, who imploded on Saturday night against the Chiefs and allowed the four runs in the top of the ninth to blow his fifth save opportunity in eight chances, got some redemption last night. He worked a perfect ninth inning and recorded two strikeouts.
“I was fired up to see the way Burns came back and threw the ball tonight,” said Johnson.
The PawSox' Michael Tucker belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to account for Pawtucket's runs.
Even though the PawSox have lost two straight, Johnson and his boys aren't too concerned.
“We've really played well the last two weeks,” said the manager. “If you try to change stuff then it's just out of panic and you really can't do that here. We've got three months of baseball left and that's a lot of games. We're not going to do anything different.”
PAWTUCKET -- The PawSox lost their second straight game to the Chiefs as Syracuse starter Michael MacDonald worked seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits with six strikeouts and one walk en route to victory.
PawSox' Michael Tucker hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to account for Pawtucket's runs.
The PawSox split their four-game set with the Chiefs and Pawtucket will begin its four-game series with the Columbus Clippers tonight at 6:15.
Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin made his second rehab appearance with the PawSox tonight and worked 2/3 of an inning in the seventh. The veteran right-hander, who is recovering from tendonitis in his throwing shoulder, threw 18 pitches (11 strikes) and allowed two runs on two hits. He walked one and threw a wild pitch. Timlin worked one scoreless inning on Friday at McCoy.
It won't always be like this, because no team no matter how good can have this kind of run for an entire season.
But for now, the Red Sox can seemingly do no wrong and they're wisely making the most of it.
As the Sox finished up their sweep of the hapless Texas Rangers here yesterday with a 6-5 victory, a familiar plot played itself out. Trailing 4-3 after seven, the Sox scored two runs in the eighth and one more in the ninth.
In all three wins here, the Sox had to come from behind after the fifth inning.
Yesterday's win was their fifth this season in which the Sox trailed after seven innings.
Not much deters them. Yesterday, they were without their best hitter (David Ortiz) and their best reliever (Jonathan Papelbon), and it didn't matter.
Yesterday's win was started by their fifth starter and finished by the alternative closer. Still, it didn't matter.
``This was huge for us, said starter Julian Tavarez, ``but it doesn't surprise me.
Nor should it. Not the way the Red Sox are going.
The Sox now lead their closest pursuers the Baltimore Orioles by a gaudy 11 ½ games and have won 15 of their last 20 and 22 of their last 30. Not even a change of venue slows the Sox away from home, they've won eight of their last 10 and 10 of their last 14. Since dropping four of their first seven on the road, the Sox have cleanup, going 15-4.
The winning pitcher was Joel Pineiro, who picked up his first victory of the season with 1 2/3 innings of perfect relief, making his first appearance since Wednesday.
``We pick each other up in the bullpen and push each other," said Pineiro who retired all five hitters he faced, three by strikeout.
The tying run was produced by slumping outfielder J.D. Drew, who, only two at-bats earlier, had snapped an 0-for-17 skid. In the eighth, he slapped a single to right, scoring Kevin Youkilis.
``That's why we got him," said manager Terry Francona of Drew. ``I know he's been struggling, but he came through when we needed him. And we need him to hit."
The winning run came from Dustin Pedroia, who crunched his second homer of the season in an epic battle with Eric Gagne, finally rocketing a ball out to left on the 12th pitch.
``I knew it was going to be a fight," he said of the at-bat. ``I finally got a good pitch to hit and hit it well. I saw a lot of pitches, so that helped me out."
Finally, the save went to Hideki Okajima, who filled in for Jonathan Papelbon, who had pitched in the first two games of the series. Okajima had some anxious moment, yielding a run-scoring single to Mark Teixeira, which put the potential tying run on base.
But Okajima got Sammy Sosa to fly to center for the final out, capping the Sox first three-game sweep here since 1973.
Julian Tavarez cruised through the first five innings, allowing a leadoff single to Kenny Lofton, the first batter he faced, before retiring 15 of the next 17 hitters he faced.
But Tavarez unexpectedly came unglued in the sixth. He walked Lofton, yielded a single to Michael Young, then was tagged for a mammoth 450-foot homer into the upper deck by Mark Teixeira, wiping out the Sox 3-0 lead.
Tavarez had shaken off catcher Jason Varitek, but made the mistake of hanging a slider over the middle of the plate.
``You hang one and it cost me the game," said Tavarez. ``That was the difference. But the bullpen came through after I dropped the game.
Tavarez, who was so efficient through the first five, left a mess -- first-and-second, two outs -- for J.C. Romero. But Romero got Ramon Vazquez on an inning-ending groundout before slipping into his owm trouble in the seventh.
He yielded a leadoff double to Kenny Lofton and a one-out walk to Teixeira. Pineiro came on to face Sammy Sosa, hoping for either a double-play or a strikeout. He got the latter, catching Sosa looking at a called third strike.
Then came the defensive play of the game, with Coco Crisp turning in a brilliant, sprawling catch to save two runs.
``When I saw that ball hit, said Pinerio, ``nobody was close to the ball. That was just a great catch."
Varitek had staked the Sox to a 3-0 lead in the fourth with a three-run belt off starter Kameron Loe, his first homer since May 8.
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- The Red Sox have been winning games all sorts of way so far this season, and today they rolled out a new formula: Contributions from players who previously were struggling.
J.D. Drew, hitting only .161 (10-for-62) in the month of May going into today's game, contributed an RBI single in the two-run, eighth-inning rally that gave the Sox the lead, and Joel Piniero, he of the 9.35 ERA in his last six appearances, retired all five batters he faced and picked up the victory as Boston came from behind for a 6-5 win over the Rangers and a sweep of the three-game weekend series.
Mike Lowell broke a 4-4 tie with a run-scoring single in the eighth for the Sox, who also got a three-run homer from Jason Varitek (third inning) and a solo shot from Dustin Pedroia (in the ninth after a 12-pitch at-bat against Rangers closer Eric Gagne).
Hideki Okajima, called on to close things out because Jonathan Papelbon, who had worked two consecutive days, was unavailable, pitched the ninth and recorded his third save, despite allowing a run on an RBI single by Mark Teixeira (who had hit a three-run homer off starter Julian Tavarez in the sixth).
The Sox now lead the A.L. East by 12 games in the loss column over the Orioles, Blue Jays and Yankees, all of whom have 27 losses. Boston is 34-15.
In the first week of the season, Tim Wakefield pitched one of the best games of any Red Sox starter this year three hits and one earned run allowed in six innings but was still saddled with the loss, thanks to no run support.
It could be said, then, that he had last night coming.
Wakefield wasn't as sharp last night as he was back on April 6, but his backing was far better. The knuckleballer survived a three-run fifth and snapped a personal two-game losing steak as the Sox beat back the Texas Rangers, 7-4.
The win gave the surging Red Sox an 11-game bulge in the A.L. East, their largest to date. The Sox have won three of their last four and wrap up their six-game road trip this afternoon.
Wakefield pitched seven innings and gave up four earned runs, evening his record at 5-5.
Javy Lopez and Brendan Donnelly took care of the eighth before Jonathan Papelbon came in to notch his 12th save.
Manny Ramirez produced half of the Red Sox eight hits, falling a homer shy of the cycle with a triple, double and two singles for his first four-hit game of the season and his first since last Aug. 18.
``Seeing him swing the bat like that is gratifying, said manager Terry Francona. ``He took some good swings.
The Sox rebounded from a 4-2 deficit when they erupted for five runs in the sixth. The Rangers issued four walks that inning.
Like fellow starter Brandon McCarthy the night before, Texas righthander Vicente Padilla was done in partly by his lack of control.
Following a leadoff single by Kevin Youkilis, Ramirez drilled an opposite-field triple into the right field corner, plating Youkilis. A wild pitch from Padilla enabled Ramirez to trot home from third and tie the game.
A walk to J.D. Drew and a single by Mike Lowell kept the inning going and signaled the end of the night for Padilla, but his replacement, Joaquin Benoit, was no more effective.
He quickly yielded an RBI-single up the middle to Coco Crisp, then walked No. 8 hitter Doug Mirabelli to fill the bases.
A sacrifice fly to center from Alex Cora scored Lowell, and two more walks one to Julio Lugo and another to Kevin Youkilis forced in the fifth run of the inning.
``For me, the encouraging thing was that we came right back, said Francona. ``That's a good way to play the game. We didn't let them get comfortable (with the lead)."
Wakefield had retired 11 of the first 13 hitters of the night when the Rangers stirred in the fifth.
Gerald Laird doubled to left, scoring Frank Catalanotto (hit-by-pitch) and Marlon Byrd (single), giving Texas a 3-2 edge.
A sharp single to left from Ramon Vazquez gave Texas two runners in scoring position and Kenny Lofton delivered Laird from third on a sacrifice fly, Laird beating Ramirez's poor throw to the plate.
Wakefield righted himself after the fifth, getting five of the next six hitters he faced. In five of the seven innings he pitched, in fact, Wakefield faced the minimum number of hitters.
``I would have liked to have that fifth inning back, said Wakefield. ``I felt like I was still throwing the ball well, but they hit some balls that found holes. (The quick innings) are a barometer for me it tells me I'm in the strike zone, getting good movement and getting swings early in the count."
Youkilis, extending his hitting streak to 18 games, produced his first of two hits in the fourth, a double to left off Padilla.
Padilla then walked David Ortiz and Ramirez to fill the bases. The slumping J.D. Drew hit what appeared to be a tailor-made double play to first baseman Mark Teixeira. But after Teixeira's throw to second forced Ramirez, Michael Young's throw back to first went over Padilla's head. Youkilis had already scored and the error enabled Ortiz to score all the way from second.
Texas had taken a 1-0 lead in the second when Sammy Sosa stroked a leadoff double to left and rode home on Marlon Byrd's single.
The Pawtucket Red Sox were well on their way to a fourth straight win, but the Syracuse Chiefs had other thoughts.
The Chiefs scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning off PawSox reliever Mike Burns en route to a 10-7 come-from-behind victory last night at McCoy Stadium.
Burns’ record drops to 2-4 with an 8.06 ERA and has blown five of eight save opportunities this season.
Former PawSox player and current Syracuse designated hitter Chad Mottola belted a three-run homer in the ninth to secure the victory.
Pawtucket had 7-2 lead after four innings, but the Chiefs chipped away and scored eight runs over the last five innings for the victory.
“You have to look at the game as a whole,” said Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson. PawSox starter “Runelvys (Hernandez) did a great job of battling and we’re facing a team that has a lot of guys who can hit. When they hit the ball it’ll account for something. It was just one of those things tonight where we couldn’t hold them down. They started pecking away late in the game and you really have to tip your hat to those guys.
“I don’t think Burns made bad pitches,” added Johnson. “We just got beat tonight. That club just came back and beat us tonight. Those types of games are hard to lose, but we did not beat ourselves tonight.”
The Pawtucket offense was solid and banged out 12 hits with outfielder Brandon Moss providing a 4-for-5 performance with three RBI.
“He was perfect,” said Johnson. “He had a lot of professional at-bats tonight. He’s done a great job and it’s good to see.”
It’s very possible Hernandez made his last start for the PawSox last night. A veteran of 78 big-league starts for the Kansas City Royals in parts of four seasons, Hernandez signed with the Red Sox as a minor-league free agent last December and has an out-clause in his contract, stating if the Red Sox don’t recall him to Boston by June 1 then he’s allowed to sign with another club.
If he does start another game for Pawtucket, it could be Thursday against Columbus.
“He’s done exactly what we thought he’d do,” said Johnson. “He’s a veteran guy with multiple years of experience in the big leagues. You look for guys like that to come down and stabilize your staff. You take away the win-lose record; we just haven’t scored any runs for the guy. He’s done a real nice job for us. . . With the way pitching is around baseball he’s a guy who can help a club, but we hope he can stay here.”
Hernandez, who would not speak with the local media after the game, entered last night’s start with a 0-3 record in six starts for the PawSox, and also spent some time on the disabled list (April 25 to May 7) with a strained left hamstring, which caused him to miss a few starts.
If he does decide to look elsewhere for employment, that could mean Red Sox pitching prospect Clay Buchholz could be promoted from Double-A Portland. The 22-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 1.97 E.R.A in eight starts for the Sea Dogs. He has struck out 61 and walked only seven.
For now Hernandez remains with Pawtucket and he battled at times last night, but he was able to control most of his outing.
The Chiefs’ Russ Adams and Kevin Barker each hit solo home runs in the top of the first off Hernandez, but Pawtucket’s offense answered in the bottom of the inning as Moss delivered a two-run double to tie the game at 2-2.
Following the two runs Hernandez surrendered in the first, he settled down and retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced before allowing a two-run triple to the Chiefs’ Russ Adams in the fifth inning. Fortunately, the PawSox scored one run in the third and four more in the fourth, so Hernandez and Pawtucket still held a 7-4 advantage.
Hernandez’s day on the job was over after he retired the side in order in the sixth. The veteran right-hander allowed four runs on five hits with three walks and one strikeout, throwing 112 pitches (60 for strikes) in his seventh start of the season for Pawtucket.
Syracuse scored a run in the top of the seventh inning as Adams provided an RBI-single, his fourth RBI of the game, off Pawtucket reliever Craig Hansen to cut the Chiefs’ deficit to two.
The Chiefs pushed across another run in the top of the eighth as John-Ford Griffin (cq) hit a solo homer off PawSox reliever Bryan Corey to cut Syracuse’s deficit to one, 7-6. Moss recorded his fourth hit of the game, a one-out triple to deep right field, but he was left stranded 90 feet away.
In the top of the ninth inning, the Chiefs finally knotted the game at 7-7. Syracuse lead-off man Wayne Lydon led off the inning with a double and later scored on Adams’s RBI-single off Burns. Adams finished the night 4-for-5, including a home run, triple, a pair of singles and five RBI.
The Chiefs, however, weren’t done.
Mottola crushed a three-run homer off Burns to take a 10-7 lead and Syracuse held on for the win.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Following a day off in the schedule, the Red Sox’ bats snapped back to life last night, though it was hard to tell what had revitalized them more – the rest or the sight of the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff.
As a staff, the Rangers came into last night 13th – next to last – in the American League and their rotation was dead last. Then, as if to demonstrate that their ranking was no statistical anomaly, the Rangers yielded 10 hits and seven walks as the Sox rolled to a rain-delayed 10-6 win.
The victory, coupled with the Yankees’ loss to the Angels, re-established the Sox’ 10 1/2 game lead in the American League East.
In a balanced attack, seven different Red Sox hitters produced at least one RBI. The Sox led 4-0 in the second, coughed up the lead, then scored six more to pull away from the Rangers, who lost for the eighth time in the last 11 tries.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, who left after five innings complaining of nausea, picked up his sixth straight win to improve to 7-2.
''The fact that he got through five innings speaks to what kind of competitor he is,’’ said pitching coach John Farrell.
Several teammates said Matsuzaka could be heard getting sick in the runway to the dugout between innings.
''I felt very good coming out of my warmup in the bullpen,’’ said Matsuzaka in a statement provided to reporters. ''But of all a sudden, I didn’t feel too well. I tried my best to take the team as deep into the game to fulfill my responsibility to the team.’’
As was typical of Matsuzaka’s outings earlier this season, one bad inning resulted in most of the damage. After allowing just one over the first three innings, Matsuzaka was knocked around for five runs in the fourth.
The Rangers launched four extra-base hits, including two homers – one by noted Sox nemesis Frank Catalanotto, another by former Sox utilityman Ramon Vazquez.
Matsuzaka steadied himself with a scoreless fifth, then didn’t return, having thrown just 85 pitches, his lowest total of the season.
''The fact that he gutted it out,’’ said catcher Jason Varitek, ''says a lot.’’
The Sox believed that Matsuzaka was merely suffering from a 24-hour stomach bug, but as a precaution, he was given fluids – orally and intravenously – after the game.
They didn’t have to do much in the second against Texas starter Brandon McCarthy, who walked four in the span of five hitters. Jason Varitek had a sacrifice fly and Dustin Pedroia chipped in with a bases-loaded, opposite-field single. The Sox led, 4-0, after 1 1/2, and McCarthy was gone by the top of the third.
''Any time you can get into the bullpen early,’’ said Terry Francona, ''it’s really helpful – especially in the first game of a series.’’
Having lost the lead in the fourth, the Sox stormed back with two in the fifth and four more in the sixth. Ortiz drilled a run-scoring double down the right field line and Manny Ramirez followed with a single off the second-base bag, which kicked into left field.
Run-scoring hits from Jason Varitek (triple), Coco Crisp (double), Julio Lugo (single) and Youkilis (single) sparked the four-run sixth.
''We came right back (after falling behind),’’ said Francona, ''which was good. And one through nine, we had guys chipping in.’’
Indeed, every starter except slumping J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell contributed at least one hit and every starter except Pedroia scored at least one run.
With Matsuzaka gone from the game, the Sox got four innings of one-run relief from five relievers. The lone run against the relievers came on a wild pitch by Brendan Donnelly.
Otherwise, the pen was stellar, allowing just one hit and one walk while compiling three strikeouts.
Game Story: PawSox score early and often in 10-4 win over Chiefs
PAWTUCKET -- They played nine innings, but the Pawtucket Red Sox needed only two.
The PawSox scored eight runs on nine hits in the first inning, and two runs on two hits in the second inning off Syracuse Chiefs starter Josh Banks en route to a 10-4 victory last night at McCoy Stadium.
In the bottom of the first, the PawSox batted around as Pawtucket’s No. 1 and No. 2 hitters – Jacoby Ellsbury and Joe McEwing – combined for 4 hits, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. The PawSox also collected five doubles in the first inning.
After the Chiefs scored two in the top of the second curiosity of a two-run blast by Chiefs’ Erik Kratz, Pawtucket added two more in the bottom half as Jeff Bailey and Brandon Moss hit back-to-back solo home runs to right field, the first time this season the PawSox hit consecutive roundtrippers.
On the mound, the PawSox’ Kason Gabbard earned the win after working 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with five strikeouts.
It was only five days ago when Gabbard made a spot-start for the Boston Red Sox and posted a victory over the Atlanta Braves. He was told afterwards he was being optioned back to Pawtucket in order to make his next scheduled start and he made the most of it last night.
“I felt good and felt that I had good stuff,” said Gabbard. “I made two bad pitches the whole game, and I was working out of jams pretty much the whole game. Overall I’m happy with the outcome and it’s a lot easier to pitch when we score 10 runs in the first inning.”
The southpaw improves to 4-1 this season for Pawtucket and manager Ron Johnson realizes what Gabbard’s week has been like.
“The guy has had a real emotional week,” said the skipper. “He went up and pitched good in Boston and got the win, so it was nice to see him have a good week.”
With the exception of Chad Spann, everyone in the PawSox’ lineup registered at least a hit. McEwing led the way with three hits and two RBI.
PAWTUCKET _ They played nine innings, but the Pawtucket Red Sox needed only two.
The PawSox scored eight runs on nine hits in the first inning, and two runs on two hits in the second inning off Syracuse Chiefs starter Josh Banks en route to a 10-4 victory last night at McCoy Stadium.
In the bottom of the first, the PawSox batted around as Pawtucket’s No. 1 and No. 2 hitters – Jacoby Ellsbury and Joe McEwing – combined for 4 hits, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. The PawSox also collected five doubles in the first inning.
After the Chiefs scored two in the top of the second curiosity of a two-run blast by Chiefs’ Erik Kratz, Pawtucket added two more in the bottom half as Jeff Bailey and Brandon Moss hit back-to-back solo home runs to right field, the first time this season the PawSox hit consecutive roundtrippers.
On the mound, the PawSox’ Kason Gabbard earned the win after working 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with five strikeouts.
Mike Timlin started the seventh inning for the PawSox and threw 16 pitches (seven strikes) He walked one and made an error.
Wayne Lydon led off the inning for Syracuse and hit a chopper down the first-base line. Timlin made the play, but hit Lydon in the back with the ball trying to throw to first. He was given an error on the play.
Timlin walked the next batter and got a little help from his defense on the following hitter, who hit a chopper up the middle that PawSox second baseman Joe McEwing grabbed and turned an unassisted double play.
Timlin got the next hitter to ground out to McEwing to end the inning.
Steinbrenner comments on Torre, Cashman and Giambi
With his New York Yankees struggling, George Steinbrenner says Joe Torre is safe for now, general manager Brian Cashman “is on a big hook” and Jason Giambi “should have kept his mouth shut.”
In a rare interview Thursday night from his office in Tampa, Fla., the Boss praised Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter and said he was encouraged by the Yankees' performance this week in taking two out of three games from AL East-leading Boston.
Cashman, given increased duties when he re-signed after the 2005 season, is apparently being held largely responsible for the team's play.
“He's on a big hook,” a spirited Steinbrenner said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “He wanted sole authority. He got it. Now he's got to deliver.”
New York entered Friday 21-24 and trailed the Red Sox by 91/2 games.
“The boss is the boss,” Cashman said before Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels. “There are no surprises here. He's said this to me privately.”
Cashman agreed with Steinbrenner's assessment.
“I'm on the hook. You can't describe it any better than that,” Cashman said. “It's my job to figure it out.
“So far, it's been a long, short season. We've got to fight through this,” he said, adding the results at this point are “not acceptable.”
The Yankees, with the highest payroll in the majors, haven't reached the World Series since 2003.
“We hope we have turned it around,” Steinbrenner said emphatically. “We just have to get out there and compete, compete hard, and win.”
Torre, Steinbrenner's manager since 1996, appears to be safe for now.
“We are not considering a change,” Steinbrenner said.
Torre, like Steinbrenner, is displeased with the Yankees' start.
“When he says something, you understand it's his team and he has the right to be unhappy,” Torre said. “He's stirred the pot here for a lot of years, and it's paid off.”
Steinbrenner was less generous toward Giambi, whose recent comments to USA Today that he was “wrong for doing that stuff” were interpreted by some as an admission of steroid use. Giambi told a federal grand jury that he used steroids from 2001-3 and human growth hormone in 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Giambi was called into the commissioner's office Wednesday to discuss his remarks.
“He should have kept his mouth shut,” Steinbrenner said. “The matter is in the hands of the baseball commissioner.”
Said Giambi: “He has that right. He's the boss. I'm going to worry about playing baseball.”
This wasn't the first time, of course, that Steinbrenner's barbs hit one of his players.
“It's what goes on here, and I think Jason has been here long enough to understand that,” Torre said.
Commissioner Bud Selig likely will decide within two weeks whether to discipline Giambi.
On another topic, Steinbrenner said he was impressed with Torre's bench coach, ex-Yankees great Don Mattingly, and that he “could possibly” become manager someday.
“Mattingly is a good one,” Steinbrenner said. “He is very thorough guy. He understands what it is to be a Yankee.”
Steinbrenner is counting on Clemens to be a part of a Yankees' comeback. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $28 million, one-year contract with the Yankees on May 6 and will rejoin the team sometime in June. Steinbrenner says the 44-year-old right-hander brings “a winning attitude.”
“I think Roger is capable of sparking the team,” he said. “He is a veteran and will bring stability. I am happy he is coming back. I love him.”
Steinbrenner felt the Rocket needed at least one more minor league start to sharpen his stuff, and Clemens is set to start Monday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The owner also lavished praise on Pettitte, who left the Yankees after the 2003 season and pitched alongside Clemens in Houston before rejoining the Yankees this season.
“He's a real gutsy guy,” Steinbrenner said. “We are happy he is back with us.”
Steinbrenner also is pleased with Jeter, who this week passed Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and moved into fifth place on the Yankees' career hits list.
“Jeter is a real Yankee,” he said.
Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973 and has presided over six world championships and 10 pennants while building the Yankees franchise into the most lucrative in sports.
He has been know to make generous donations through the team, most recently to Virginia Tech in the aftermath of last month's tragedy.
The Yankees contributed $1 million to the school's “Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund” to assist the victims' families, and honored the victims before the Red Sox game on Wednesday night. Virginia Tech's president threw out the first pitch and the Yankees wore VT logos on their caps.
“I feel very strongly about the young people,” Steinbrenner said. “I feel so strongly about the teachers and the school, all the people affected by this. We wanted to help in the healing process.”
-- The weather here is overcast and muggy, and there's a threat of rain all weekend. Terry Francona was asked how Daisuke Matsuzaka, tonight's starting pitcher, would react if the game was delayed and he was forced to sit for a stretch of time.
''You use common sense,'' Francona said, ''but with all the throwing he does, he might [handle it] the best of anyone.''
-- Francona said reports on Jon Lester's performance in Pawtucket Thursday night were impressive.
-- Curt Schilling has struggled in his last three outings, but Francona said there were some good things to take out of his start in New York on Wednesday night.
''I hope he remembers that those last three or four innings were pretty good,'' said the manager. ''He had a couple of eight-pitch innings. He doesn't have to reinvent himself. He just has to locate his fastball better. When you do that, you open up the plate a lot.''
-- SEAN McADAM
McDonald says Jon Lester's seven-straight perfect innings was classified by one club official as the "most efficient" yet he's seen the pitcher. "He looked like the Jon Lester we saw last year," McDonald said.
The 23-year-old is working his way back to Boston after he was diagnosed with cancer last August. During his minor-league rehab stints in Single-A Greenville and with the PawSox, he’s been on target, but he recently suffered a setback when he experienced cramping in his throwing forearm in his previous start, on May 2.
ON TARGET: Jon Lester made his second start last night after sitting out 2 1/2 weeks because of pain in his forearm and the results were impressive: 5 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout. (projo.com) ''I felt good,” said Lester. “The forearm felt good; everything felt good.'' An interesting note: He retired the first 11 batters he faced after retiring the last 10 he faced Saturday on Ottawa, giving him a string of 21 consecutive batters -- seven perfect innings.
HIM, TOO: The Boston Herald's Rob Bradford has an interesting profile of the next highly regarded pitcher coming down the Red Sox pipeline, Clay Buchholz. The Sox selected him with the compensatory draft pick they received for the Mets' signing of Pedro Martinez, but only after satisfying themselves that an early-in-his-life incident -- the theft of 29 laptops from a school by Buchholz and one of his friends -- was a youthful indiscretion and not a warning sign of further trouble.
BUT THE SKIES ARE BLUE IN THE YES BROADCAST BOOTH: When YES play-by-play announcer Michael Kay began to talk about Giambi's steroid use, John Flaherty talked about Giambi retreating to the ''comfort zone'' of the batter's box and Paul O'Neill chose to rag on Dustin Pedroia. (New York Daily News)
PAWTUCKET -- PawSox manager Ron Johnson said prior to Jon Lester’s start last night, the Red Sox organization was just looking for another solid outing from the young left-hander.
In his fourth rehab start for the PawSox this season, he worked five solid innings and allowed just one run on three hits with one walk and one strikeout. His scheduled allotment of work was originally set at 70-75 pitches or five innings, which ever came first. He finished with 65 pitches (39 strikes) and showed no ill effects. He’s expected to pitch again for the PawSox on Tuesday against Columbus at McCoy.
The 23-year-old pitcher is working his way back to Boston after he was diagnosed with cancer last August. During his minor-league rehab stint in Single-A Greenville and with the PawSox, he’s been on target, but recently suffered a setback when he experienced cramping in his throwing forearm in his previous start on May 2.
“I felt good,” said Lester after Pawtucket’s 3-2 victory over Syracuse last night. “The forearm felt good; everything felt good. My legs were under me after going five innings, so it’s getting betting. Now I just need to get up to 90-100 pitches and see where we’re at then and go from there.”
The southpaw was able to throw his fastball, curveball and change-up without any problems, but he stayed away from the cutter, the pitch that he thinks caused the tightness in his forearm.
“They said I could throw a couple in the first inning,” admitted Lester. “But we decided I didn’t want to mess around with it, so I just went out and pitched and didn’t worry about it. My mechanics felt good. Everything is starting to feel real good. Everything is clicking and it’s consistent.”
In his four rehab starts for the PawSox, Lester has allowed just three runs in 16 2/3 innings of work with a 1.62 E.R.A.
“I thought he did a great job,” said Johnson. “He was pitch-efficient for his five innings. The bottom line is he felt great before and he felt great afterwards. It’s really good to see.”
During his previous start on Saturday in Ottawa, he retired the final 10 batters he faced. Last night he retired the first 11 hitters for a total of 21straight. Also, he's only allowed six earned runs in 29 2/3 innings of work in his seven minor-league rehab starts this season.
“He really threw the ball well in Ottawa,” said Johnson. “He was free and easy with good velocity and a good breaking ball. I liked what I saw.”
Probably the most impressive aspect of his outing north of the border last weekend was the fact he took the bus with the rest of the team. He didn’t have to do that, he could have easily met the club in Ottawa after a flight, but acted as a true professional.
“I know he was very excited to be with us and he enjoyed the trip as much as anybody else,” said Johnson. “Jon enjoys his normalcy being around the club. He wants to be a part of the team.”
After his second rehab appearance with the PawSox on May 2, when he experienced cramping in his left forearm and suffered a set back, the Red Sox decided it would be best Lester join the parent club to continue his rehab until he was ready to start again.
During that start against Indianapolis where he experienced the tightness, everyone involved didn’t think too much of it.
“We didn’t know anything was wrong until he came out and said he had a cramp,” said Johnson. “To be honest, I didn’t think much of it. It’s different when a guy comes in and says ‘oh I felt something here.’ But he wasn’t that type.”
In the meantime, Lester threw his side sessions in Boston as he prepared for his seventh rehab start of the season last night.
“He’s a young valuable commodity for us,” said Johnson. “He deserves the opportunity to get himself back on track at his pace and we’re going to follow that.”
Jon Lester just completed his rehab start with the PawSox. He allowed one run -- an RBI-double -- on three hits with one strikeout and one walk. The left-hander threw 65 pitches (39 strikes) and was very efficient.
During his previous start in Ottawa on Saturday, he retired the final 10 batters he faced. Tonight he retired the first 11 hitters for a total of 21straight. Also, he's only allowed six earned runs in 29 2/3 innings of work for the PawSox this season.
Lester retires the side in order, throwing 11 pitches (seven strikes). The left-hander reached 92 on the gun and looks sharp. He wants to work on his cutter tonight, but is only allowed to use the pitch sparingly.
Coco Crisp on The Score: A-Rod apologized to Pedroia (audio clip available)
On his weekly appearance on Sportsbeat with Scott Cordischi and Bryan Morry, the Red Sox' Coco Crisp said today that Alex Rodriguez apologized to Dustin Pedroia for his hard slide into second base Tuesday night.
''I know we [saw] Alex Rodriguez coming out [of] the [batting] cage [on Wednesday night] and, you know, he kind of apoligized to Pedey for it.
''Sometimes things happen in the course of the game . . . [and afterwards] you're like, 'Dang, why the heck did I do that? That was stupid.' And I'm sure that he understood that, because he's been in the game a long time, you know, longer than me and Pedey put together. He probably understood that he shouldn't have done that. He's trying to play hard. He probably won't do it again. Hopefully. At least not against us.''
Listen to the clip here, and listen to Sportsbeat with Scott Cordischi and Bryan Morry today between 3 and 7 p.m. for the complete Coco Crisp interview.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Tough nights for Schilling and Roger
Once again, Sean McAdam is Art Martone's guest on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. After a rough night in the Bronx, he discusses the concerns about Curt Schilling's recent ineffectiveness. On the flip side of the coin, he talks about Roger Clemens' unspectacular outing in Texas, and about what J.D. Drew might expect at Fenway if he doesn't start hitting soon. Here are some excerpts:
On whether Schilling is concerned about his performances: "I think he should be. For much of his career, he has succeeded by being able to locate his fastball with incredible precision. He just has pinpoint control, and not only does that get him ahead in the count and put hitters on the defensive and in pitcher's counts, but it also makes all his other pitches, particularly his split-finger, work much better. But when he isn't able to establish the fastball for strikes, he's really working at a disadvantage, as we've seen the last few times out."
On Clemens last night: "Anyone expecting that Roger Clemens is going to hop back in here and be throwing 94-95, I think they're in for sort of a rude awakening, because his velocity seemed to be pretty average, and obviously in that first inning when he walked in a run, his command was not what it should be."
On Drew: "We talked about Cleveland coming in next week, and that of course means the return of Trot Nixon. And if Drew doesn't start kicking it into gear over this weekend in Texas, and Nixon, who was always a very popular player, comes back in next weekend, it could start getting a little uncomfortable for Drew."
TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY: Yesterday the talk was how the Red Sox have gotten the pitching this year and the Yankees haven't. Today -- at least regarding last night's game -- it's the opposite, as Curt Schilling (AP Photo, left) was outdone by Andy Pettitte in the Yankees' 8-3 win. (projo.com) On his blog, Schilling says he felt ''great during the day, even better after warmups,'' (38pitches.com) but none of it carried over into the game. ''24 base runners in the past 12 innings means there isn’t just one problem here,'' he wrote. ''From lack of command to horrible execution, the problems run the gamut. This game always is and always will be about making adjustments and right now there is a plethora of adjustments that need to be made.'' The folks at Sons of Sam Horn are getting a little nervous about Schilling, based on his last three starts (sonsofsamhorn.net); be interesting to see if he weighs in on the discussion, as he sometimes does.
WHY AM I PAYING SO MUCH FOR SO LITTLE? Take a look at Ben Fry's salary-vs.-performance chart. Notice that big red line going from low performance to high salary . . . (benfry.com)
SAME STORY, NEW CHAPTER: The A-Rod-as-Boston-villain storyline appeared to have blown over by 2005, but all it took was one slide into second base to reignite the embers. Dustin Pedroia was in the spotlight yesterday, talking about A-Rod's hard slide Tuesday night. (projo.com) The Globe's Dan Shaughnessy devoted a column to it. For his part, Rodriguez says he has no idea what the fuss is all about. (New York Daily News) The Boston Herald's Tony Massarotti, meanwhile, defends A-Rod, calling the Pedroia/Rodriguez matchup "baseball’s answer to Godzilla and Bambi.''
WE'RE WITH YOU, DUSTIN: Both David Pinto (baseballmusings.com) and Seth Mnookin (sethmnookin.com) think Alex Rodriguez' takeout slide on Dustin Pedroia Tuesday night was wrong. Pinto stated his point calmly, Mnookin less so.
CARL, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: And so ends the star-crossed Yankee career of Carl Pavano. (New York Daily News) Remembering how hard the Red Sox pursued him in the 2004-05 offseason brings to mind the old saying: Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.
VOICE OF REASON: You don't normally associated that phrase with Denny McLain, but he has some very interesting thoughts on baseball's policy towards alcohol. McLain, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver 15 years ago, was prompted to make a blog entry by Josh Hancock's recent death, and notes that when he played 40 years ago, ''[the] best place to get high on booze was a Major League clubhouse''. He also notes that three fellow members of the 1968 World Series champion Tigers -- manager Mayo Smith, first baseman Norm Cash and shortstop Ray Oyler -- were alcoholics, and all died premature deaths. (blogs.britannica.com/blog)
WE'RE BACK! You know the Milwaukee Brewers, who've been out of the spotlight since the True Blue Brew Crew days of the 1980s, have re-arrived when they make an appearance on a soap opera. (espn.go.com)
For the last five seasons, Red Sox-Yankee games have been marked by drama, late-inning lead changes and surprise finishes.
Not this series, however.
For the third time in as many nights, the team that scored first went on to win easily. The Yankees jumped to a 3-0 lead last night, tacked on additional runs in the second, third and fourth innings and cruised to a 8-3 thrashing of the Red Sox.
In the three games, there wasn’t a single lead change and the games were lopsided enough that neither team registered a save.
Andy Pettitte (seven innings, one run allowed) out-dueled Curt Schilling (six runs and 12 hits in six innings) as the Yanks took the series two games to one and succeeded in shaving a game off the Sox’ lead in the American League East. They now trail the Sox by 9 ½ games.
The series’ loss was the first for the Sox since they were swept in a two-game set by Toronto on April 23-24. It was the first road series defeat and first three-game series lost since the first weekend of the season when they dropped two-of-three in Texas.
Schilling, now winless in his last three starts, dug an early hole and never recovered. The 12 hits he allowed were the most in a start since yielding 13 in a start against Toronto on April 22, 2004.
Schilling has won just once in his last five outings and the three strikeouts he registered last night tied his season low, first set April 25 at Baltimore.
It took the Yankees just two batters to start building a lead. With Johnny Damon (double) in scoring position, Derek Jeter (three hits) slapped a single the opposite way, just beyond the dive of second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Hideki Matsui then followed by lining a bullet down the right field line, just inside foul pole, scoring Jeter.
In the second, an error by shortstop Julio Lugo and three infield hits contributed to the fourth New York run, which was unearned. It was the first unearned run off Schilling since June of 2004, a stretch covering 69 starts.
A run-scoring single from Jorge Posada delivered Alex Rodriguez in the third and a solo homer off the upper-deck façade from Doug Mienkiewicz in the fourth kept adding to the Yanks’ cushion.
Pettitte came into last night as the Yanks’ most dependable starter, despite his 2-3 won-loss record. He was far sharper than the last time he started against the Sox, April 27, when he was charged with five runs in just 4 2/3 innings.
In the sixth, the Sox finally broke though when Manny Ramirez doubled to center and one out later, Mike Lowell followed with a double to the right-center gap, scoring Ramirez.
That’s as far as they got, however, as Jason Varitek flied to right with Lowell stranded in scoring position.
The Sox were punchless against Pettitte, blanked for the first five innings even though they had at least one baserunner in every inning and managed to put the leadoff man on base twice.
A one-out double by Kevin Youkilis in the second gave them a scoring opportunity, but Pettitte got Lowell to fly to right and retired Varitek on a foul pop-up to third.
Singles by Pedroia and Coco Crisp set the table in the third, but with the shift on, David Ortiz lined directly at Robinson Cano, stationed in shallow right, for the final out of the inning.
In the fifth, Wily Mo Pena beat out a slow roller to third and when Bobby Abreu, the subject of Yankee fans’ wrath, dropped a liner from Pedroia, the Sox had runners at first and second and no out.
But just as quickly, the Sox’ threat fizzled when Julio Lugo hit a broken-back liner to the mound which Pettitte gloved, then fired to second to double-up Pena.
The two teams exchanged meaningless runs late in the game.
Jeter’s leadoff triple and a single through the box by Matsui accounted for a seventh-inning run against Brendan Donnelly while Coco Crisp launched his first homer of the season – an upper-deck shot to right – against reliever Kyle Farnsworth.
The Sox added a second run in the eighth when Ortiz walked, was awarded second on a balk and trotted home on Youkilis’ single to right. The Yanks added their final run off Joel Pineiro in the eighth on a RBI single by Damon.
Roger Clemens didn't look ready for the major leagues on Wednesday night.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings while pitching for the New York Yankees' Double-A Trenton farm team against Boston's Portland, Maine, affiliate.
In his second minor league start since signing with the Yankees, he threw 64 of 102 pitches for strikes, struggling at times with his control and what appeared to be heavy legs.
The 44-year-old, who may make his next start for the Yankees next week at Toronto, was given a standing ovation by the Thunder's record crowd of 9,134 at Waterfront Park.
He walked four, struck out five, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Clemens had planned to throw 70-75 pitches but he was at the number after four innings. He got through the fifth with only 10 pitches, but got into trouble in the sixth, giving up consecutive singles, hitting a batter and walking another as Portland tied the score 2-2.
Thunder manager Tony Franklin walked to the mound, talked to Clemens and summoned reliever Michael Gardner, who walked in the go-ahead run against the Sea Dogs.
Before the game, Clemens said his return would depend on how he pitched both in the game and in a bullpen session on Friday.
If all goes well, he could jump into New York's rotation Monday or Tuesday against the Blue Jays — one of his former teams.
If he wants more work, Clemens might choose to make another minor league start, perhaps for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, before returning to the big leagues June 2 or 3 at Boston, his original club.
Current Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein sat behind home plate and watched the game.
“I'm just here to watch my guys play,” Epstein said.
Clemens took the “Madden” bus from New York and arrived at Trenton about 1 p.m. Less than an hour later, he was holding court on the mound with members of the Thunder.
“It's exciting,” Clemens said. “I mean I am happy I get an opportunity to maybe perform in places where I normally would not have the opportunity to. I have gotten to see some neat towns. Coming here from New York it was a pretty neat drive. I am meeting some new guys and that's all part of it, I enjoy doing it.”
Clemens took the “Madden” bus from New York and arrived at Trenton about 1 p.m. Less than an hour later, he was holding court on the mound with members of the Thunder.
“It's exciting,” Clemens said around 2:30 p.m. “I mean I am happy I get an opportunity to maybe perform in places where I normally would not have the opportunity to. I have gotten to see some neat towns. Coming here from New York it was a pretty neat drive. I am meeting some new guys and that's all part of it, I enjoy doing it.”
A Yankees' season ticket holder, Kevin Carpenter of Norwalk, Conn., gave up his seats for Wednesday night's game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankees Stadium to see Clemens.
“He's been my Babe Ruth growing up. I even made the ultimate sacrifice switching from a Red Sox fan to a Yankees fan,” Carpenter said.
Clemens threw 58 pitches in four innings for Class-A Tampa on Friday night. He allowed one run on three hits — a solo homer — and struck out two against the Fort Myers Miracle, a Minnesota Twins affiliate.
Clemens struggled with his control in the first inning, when plate umpire Clory Blaser didn't give him the 13-time All Star any breaks.
Leadoff hitter Jeff Corsaletti led off the game with a fly out to deep drive to left center and the inning ended when Bryan Pritz's long fly was caught on the warning track with the bases loaded.
Clemens mixed in more sliders and breaking balls the rest of the way.
Iggy Suarez, the No. 9 hitter, hit a two-out triple down the third-base line in the second. It probably would have been a double but it took a weird bounce off the bullpen fence. Clemens got the next hitter on a weak liner to third.
Portland touched Clemens for a run in third. Jed Lowrie hit a lead-off double to right center on a hanging slider and scored on a pair of groundouts — on the first one, Clemens hustled to cover first base.
Clemens gave up a one-out double to Scott Youngbauer in the fourth, however Thunder third baseman Aarom Baldiris caught a hard line drive and made a nice stop on a ground for the next two outs.
Clemens agreed to a $28,000,022, one-year contract on May 6 and began working out at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla., last week.
''I've been in the big leagues three months and he's probably the best player in baseball. I'm not going to tell him how to slide,'' Pedroia said, attempting to defuse things. But when reminded of his comment about lowering his arm angle on his throws to discourage future incidents, Pedroia said: ''It protects me. If you come in late and with a high elbow, I've got to do something.''
The Yankees are reportedly suggesting that A-Rod's slide was in retribution for a second-inning slide by Pedroia in which the rookie second baseman appeared to have taken out Derek Jeter (AP Photo, right) despite being significantly out of the baseline at the time. But Pedroia disagreed that he'd done anything wrong.
''I didn't think my slide was wrong,'' he said. ''I came in low and on the base. I might have been out of line. If I did, I apologize to Jeter.''
-- J.D. Drew will sit out tonight's game while Wily Mo Pena plays right field. Manager Terry Francona said Drew had success against Yankee starter Andy Pettitte when both were in the National League -- Drew is 6-for-14, .429, with two home runs vs. Pettitte -- but feels the slumping right fielder, who has fallen to a .237 average, could benefit mentally from a couple of days off. (The Sox are off tomorrow and won't play again until Friday.)
"A day for Wily Mo to play is not bad, either,'' said Francona.
-- Mike Timlin is scheduled to throw another bullpen session this afternoon. Timlin will then return to Boston to be examined and could begin a rehab stint with Pawtucket either Friday or Saturday.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - New York Yankees rookie Phil Hughes threw 35 pitches off a mound Wednesday during his first bullpen session since straining his left hamstring earlier this month.
The 20-year-old, considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, is expected to have another mound session Friday or Saturday. Hughes was injured on May 1 in the midst of a no-hit bid against the Texas Rangers in his second major league start.
"The leg feels good," said Hughes, who also took part in fielding drills and his running program.
Left-hander Kei Igawa is scheduled to make his second minor league start Thursday for Class A Tampa at the Vero Beach Devil Rays. He allowed two unearned runs over four innings during his first start for Tampa last Saturday.
The former Japanese Central League star was sent to the minors on May 7 to work on pitching mechanics. Igawa, who signed a five-year, $20 million deal with New York in December, is 2-1 with a 7.63 ERA for the Yankees.
-Kevin Youkilis, 15-game hitting streak, going 29 for 66 (.439) with 10 doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI and 13 runs
-Mike Lowell, hitting 20 for 49 (.408) over last 13 games, with five home runs and 15 RBI
-David Ortiz, 8 for his last 16 with four RBI; 15 for 41 (.366) over last 13 games with 12 RBI
-Dustin Pedroia, 16 for 42 (.381) in last 14 games with four doubles, a home run and five RBI
-Jason Varitek, 18 for 46 (.391) in last 14 games with three doubles, a triple and a home run
-J.D. Drew, 0 for his last 10 and 3 for his last 22. Hitting .161 over last 25 games
Red Sox vs. Andy Pettitte
-Kevin Youkilis, 3 for 4 (.750), 1 HR
-J.D. Drew, 6 for 14 (.429), 2 HR
-Manny Ramirez, 26 for 64 (.406), 3 HR
-Julio Lugo, 5 for 13 (.385)
-Wily Mo Pena, 3 for 8 (.375)
-Jason Varitek, 15 for 41 (.366), 1 HR
-David Ortiz, 10 for 28 (.357), 1 HR
-Coco Crisp, 2 for 9 (.222)
-Mike Lowell, 1 for 6 (.167)
-Eric Hinske, 1 for 7 (.143)
-Dustin Pedroia, 0 for 4
-Alex Cora, 0 for 2
Yankees vs. Curt Schilling
-Bobby Abreu, 11 for 31 (.355)
-Jorge Posada, 11 for 31 (.355), 1 HR
-Robinson Cano, 7 for 20 (.350), 1 HR
-Hideki Matsui, 7 for 21 (.333)
-Josh Phelps, 4 for 14 (.286)
-Jason Giambi, 8 for 30 (.267), 4 HR
-Derek Jeter, 10 for 42 (.238), 1 HR
-Alex Rodriguez, 8 for 34 (.235), 4 HR
-Johnny Damon, 5 for 22 (.227), 1 HR
-Melky Cabrera, 2 for 13 (.154)
-Doug Mientkiewicz, 0 for 5
-The Red Sox have gone nine straight series without losing one; the last series they lost was the two-game set against Toronto at Fenway Park on April 23-24.
-This is the fourth time in team history that Boston has won at least 31 of its first 45 games. The other three occasions were the World Series seasons of 1946 and 1986, and the 2002 season that ended without a postseason appearance.
-Youkilis' .400 batting average in the month of May is second only to that of the Yankees' Jorge Posada, who is hitting .435 for the month.
-The Red Sox have won their last 30 games when scoring 5 or more runs, the longest such streak in the major leagues.
-Roger Clemens pitches tonight for the Double A Trenton Thunder against the visiting Porland Sea Dogs. Portland goes with top Red Sox prospect Clay Buchholz.
Red Sox fans have to love Newsday's lead on today's story about Manny Ramirez's success against the Yankees: "With one powerful swing of his bat in the first inning, Manny Ramirez seemed to take the spirit right out of Yankee Stadium last night, injecting it into his own team instead."
All over the New York media world today, the talk was about how Ramirez's first-inning blast off Mike Mussina took the momentum from Monday night away from the Yankees right away. Here's Steve Willis in the New York Post: "Before Ramirez went deep, the Yankees thought they were onto something, having won two straight games after beating the Mets on Sunday and the Red Sox in Monday night's series opener."
In The Boston Herald, Steve Buckley goes over the familiar stats: Ramirez has hit more home runs against the Bombers (51) than all but four players in major league history (Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski). One more ties him with Yaz; two more tie him with Greenberg. Over the last five seasons, Ramirez has hit more homers against New York (25) than any other player, with teammate David Ortiz close behind.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Tavarez wishes Lester nothing but the best
Today's guest on Projo SoxTalk is Sean McAdam. Click here to listen to the full audio file. He reviews last night's Red Sox win in the Bronx, and talks about how Julian Tavarez is handling the possibility of going back to the bullpen. Answer: Graciously. Here's some of what Sean had to say.
On Tavarez: "He really said some remarkable stuff after the game last night, because, people were sort of reminding him that [Jon] Lester was on his way, and that he'd be here in a couple of weeks, and given how well Tavarez has pitched on a number of starts, would that be tough for him to accept. And he really sort of went off on this soliloquy about how the most important thing to him was that Jon Lester was well again and healthy, and that if he's going to be here, he's going to be one of the top young pitchers in the league, and he deserves to start, and I'll be happy to give my place over to him. It really was almost heartwarming to hear one major league player speak about another like that."
On Dustin Pedroia's postgame comments about A-Rod: "I'll be interested to see how much play this gets today, because it was sort of one of those minor after-the-game things, but because some people wrote about it, because that clip of Pedroia will no doubt be on ESPN, I suspect it will take off a little bit today, and there will be a horde of New York reporters descending on Dustin Pedroia in the clubhouse today wondering if he thinks Alex Rodriguez is a cheap-shot artist. There's a little bit of blood in the water here, so we'll see how it plays out."
On why tonight is almost a must-win for the Yanks: "In a perfect world for the Yankees, they needed to sweep to really make any headway here. Even if they win tonight, there's a net gain of just one game in the standings, and for a team that started and is now once again 10 1/2 out, that's not a lot of forward progress."
NEW YORK (AP) - Jason Giambi failed an amphetamines test within the last year, the Daily News reported Wednesday.
The newspaper reported that after the failed amphetamines test, Giambi is subjected to six additional tests for one year. The newspaper did not cite any sources in its report.
Giambi declined comment to the newspaper before the New York Yankees' 7-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
The Yankees slugger recently said in a USA Today interview that he was "probably tested more than anybody else."
On Tuesday, lawyers for the commissioner's office and the players' association held more conversations about a possible meeting with Giambi but it remained uncertain when or if such a gathering would take place.
Lawyers for Major League Baseball would like to talk to Giambi about comments in last Friday's editions of USA Today.
"I was wrong for doing that stuff," the New York Yankees designated hitter was quoted as saying, remarks some have interpreted as an admission of steroids use.
Management lawyers would like to hold the meeting as soon as is practicable. The failed amphetamines test most likely wouldn't be discussed at a meeting since MLB policy is to keep a first positive test secret.
Hall of Famer Frank Robinson took issue with one of Giambi's comments.
"What we should have done a long time ago was stand up - players, ownership, everybody - and said: 'We made a mistake,'" Giambi was quoted as saying. "We should have apologized back then and made sure we had a rule in place and gone forward. ... Steroids and all of that was a part of history. But it was a topic that everybody wanted to avoid. Nobody wanted to talk about it."
Robinson said Giambi should speak for himself.
"If Jason wants to confess, then he should come out and say: 'I'm guilty. I apologize. I apologize to baseball. I apologize to all the fans that have supported me and supported baseball over the years. And I will clean up my act and promise you I will not do anything like this again,'" Robinson said during an interview on ESPN. "He should not drag others into (it), because when he says baseball, that includes everybody in baseball."
Before the Yankees played Boston on Tuesday night, Giambi was asked about a report in the New York Post that said the Los Angeles Angels had an interest in acquiring him. Giambi has a full no-trade clause.
"This is all news to me. I'm a Yankee," he said. "It's kind of fun to read. I never asked for it."
CUT TO THE CHASE: You can analyze the Red Sox' hot start and the Yankees' slow one eight ways to Sunday, but, in the end, it all boils down to pitching. So far this season the Sox have had it, and so far the Yankees haven't.
MAKING MORE FRIENDS IN THE BOSTON CLUBHOUSE: Dustin Pedroia wasn't around for the goings-on in 2004 -- the fight with Jason Varitek, the slap of Bronson Arroyo -- but, after last night, he's no fan of Alex Rodriguez, either. (projo.com)
NEW YORK – Right fielder J.D. Drew remained in the lineup last night, but also remained in a dreadful slump.
Drew went into last night hitting only .169 (14-for-83) in his last 24 games, dropping his batting average from .375 to a season-low .244, and things didn’t go any better in his first couple of trips to the plate as Drew began the night 0-for-2.
Last night also marked the one-month anniversary since Drew’s last homer. He has just two so far.
``He’s kind of scuffling right now,’’ acknowledged manager Terry Francona. ``I’d say it’s a mixture of bad luck and not being consistent with his swing. But from where I sit, he’s got a track record and he’s going to hit. We just have to be patient. Sometimes, you just have to ride it out.’’
Drew said he had tried ``a little of everything’’ to bust out of the slump, but hasn’t hit on the right combination.
``It hasn’t been a very good month,’’ admitted Drew. ``I feel like I’ve hit some balls good and have nothing to show for them. It’s just a matter of keeping composed and doing the things you’ve always done to be successful.’’
Drew, who opted out his contract with the Dodgers to sign a five-year, $70 million deal with the Sox, has been guilty of trying too hard at times.
``Obviously,’’ he said, ``you can easily outthink yourself at times like this. That’s the tendency when things are going bad. There are enough people out there trying to get you out; you don’t need to add one more person to that list.’’
He’s studied video and taken extra batting practice in an effort to break out.
``You’ve still got go out there and battle and make adjustments,’’ Drew said. ``We’ve got more than four months to go.’’
Manny Ramirez’s first-inning homer – a three-run belt to left – enabled him to continue to climb the charts for Yankee killers.
Ramirez ranks fifth, just one homer behind Carl Yastrzemski, for most career homers against the Yankees with 51. Jimmie Foxx is first with 70, followed by Ted Williams (62), Hank Greenberg (53) and Yaz (52).
He’s also fifth in RBI (150) against the Yankees since 1957, trailing Yaz (163), Al Kaline (157), Brooks Robinson (154) and Harmon Killebrew (153).
Ramirez has 26 homers at Yankee Stadium, the most of any player over the last 51 years. Rafael Palmeiro (23), Boog Powell and Jim Rice (22 each) are next.
Josh Beckett, who has been sidelined for the last 10 days because of an avulsion on his right middle finger, is on pace to make his scheduled start Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians.
Beckett plans to throw a five-inning simulated game in the bullpen this afternoon and will do without a bandage on his finger. Beckett will throw all of his pitches to make sure that he can throw his curve without incident.
Kevin Youkilis extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a first-inning single. That’s the second-longest current hitting streak in the big leagues, behind only Derek Jeter (16 games before last night)…Mike Lowell’s fourth-inning solo homer, off the foul pole in left, was his fifth in the last 12 games…Matt Clement, who underwent rotator cuff surgery late last fall, is in Fort Myers tasking part in extended spring training. Eventually, he’ll rejoin the major league club to continue his rehab program…Mike Timlin (shoulder) played catch yesterday and will have another mound session today…Yankee legend and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra visited the Red Sox clubhouse briefly and signed balls for Coco Crisp and Javier Lopez…General manager Theo Epstein is here, but peeled off yesterday to do some scouting for the upcoming draft, which takes place June 7…When Coco Crisp fanned in the fourth, Yankee starter Mike Mussina passed Warren Spahn to move into 23rd place on the all-time strikeout list with 2,584.
NEW YORK -- Before the Yankees could get any traction from their win in the series opener Monday, the Red Sox brought their momentum to a quick halt last night, jumping to a quick lead, then adding on as the night progressed.
When it was over, the Red Sox had squared the series with an authoritative 7-3 victory and re-established their double-digit lead in the American League standings. The Sox lead by 10 ½ games.
Julian Tavarez, pitching on his 34th birthday, checked the Yanks on three hits through 5 2/3 innings and won his second straight start. Tavarez 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced before faltering some in the fourth and fifth.
He turned the game over to the bullpen in the sixth. Lefty Javier Lopez retired the four hitters he faced through the seventh.
Leading 4-2 in the seventh, the Red Sox broke the game wide open against Mike Mussina and the New York bullpen.
Julio Lugo’s two-out single to center scored Coco Crisp (fielder’s choice, stolen base) and Kevin Youkilis chased Mussina from the mound with a ringing run-scoring double to right-center.
Joe Torre opted for lefty specialist Mike Myers, but David Ortiz foiled the strategy with a double to deep right center, playing Youkilis.
The Yankees squeaked out a run in the eighth when Hideki Okajima walked Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez to fill the bases and Jorge Posada beat the relay to first, avoiding an inning-ending double-play.
The run, meaningless as it was in the big picture, was the first scored off Okajima since Opening Day when Kansas City’s John Buck hit a 400-foot homer on the lefty’s first major league pitch. Okajima had come into the game with a scoreless streak of 20 2/3 innings, the longest for a Sox lefthander since Bruce Hurst in 1987.
Jonathan Papelbon, in a non-save situation, worked the ninth as the Sox’ record against AL East teams improved to 15-6.
The win was the Sox’ sixth in eight meetings with the Yankees this year and their 12th win overall in the last 16 games. It also improved the Sox to 15-7 away from home this season.
Mussina was not sharp from the beginning – his velocity was down sharply -- and the Sox took immediate advantage in the first inning.
Youkilis extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a one-out single and moved into scoring position when Ortiz slapped a single into left-center. Manny Ramirez, who hadn’t homered since May 9, crushed a pitch from Mussina deep into the seats in left, staking the Sox to a quick 3-0 edge just four batters into the game.
The Sox threatened with more when Mike Lowell doubled one out later and took third on a single to right by Jason Varitek. With runners at the corners, Mussina kept the damage to a minimum when he got Coco Crisp to pop out to first.
A leadoff homer from Lowell which struck the left field foul pole opened the fourth and pushed the Sox’ lead to 4-0.
The Yankees, meanwhile, couldn’t get anything going against Tavarez, who didn’t allow a hit until Hideki Matsui lined a one-out single up the middle in the fourth.
New York put a hit-and-run on and saw it executed to perfection when Posada singled to right and Matsui, off with the pitch, scampered to third.
Tavarez then tossed a wild pitch past Varitek, allowing Matsui to scored from third and Posada to move into scoring position. But he got out of the inning by getting Bobby Abreu to fly to center.
Poor command , perhaps resulting from fatigue as his pitch count inched higher, caught up with Tavarez in the fifth. Robinson Cano, who had two extra-base hits Monday night, added another when he roped a double to right with one out.
Consecutive walks to No. 9 hitter Doug Mienkiewicz and Johnny Damon loaded the bases gave the Yanks hope for a big inning. But Tavarez got Derek Jeter to hit into a fielder’s choice as Cano scored and another forceout – this one on a grounder by Matsui –ended the inning.
NEW YORK -- The Red Sox brought in Hideki Okajima to pitch the eighth and Okajima was as wild as he's been all season, leading to a Yankee run that cut Boston's lead to 7-3.
After getting Johnny Damon to fly out, Okajima surrendered a single to Derek Jeter and walked Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez, loading the bases. He settled in after that, although a run scored on a fielder's-choice grounder by Jorge Posada. (Rodriguez appeared to interfere with second baseman Dustin Pedroia on Posada's grounder, sliding hard into the Sox' second baseman and elbowing him in the side, but there was no call from second-base umpire Joe West). A grounder by Bobby Abreu ended the inning with minimal damage and sent the Sox into the ninth with a 7-3 lead.
It was the first run allowed by Okajima since he gave up a home run to the Royals' John Buck on his first major-league pitch in the season opener.
NEW YORK -- The Red Sox strung together three consecutive run-scoring hits with two outs in the top of the seventh and have broken open their game against the Yankees tonight, building a 7-2 lead.
Julio Lugo, mired in a 2-for-24 slump, singled home Coco Crisp and Kevin Youkilis followed with an RBI double up the gap in right-center field, ending Mike Mussina's night and enabling the Red Sox to increase their lead to 6-2.
Mike Myers, signed by the Yankees specifically to retire David Ortiz, failed yet again at the task. Ortiz touched his ex-teammate for a single to right-center that drove in Youkilis, making it 7-2.
Jason Varitek opened the inning with a walk, breaking a string of nine in a row retired by Mussina (AP Photo, right). He was forced at second on a grounder by Crisp, and Dustin Pedroia flied out for the second out.
Crisp then stole second, sliding in ahead of a quick tag by Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano. Lugo slapped a single to right, and Crisp rode home ahead of the throw by Yankee right fielder Bobby Abreu.
Youkilis was next, and he rapped a long double to the wall in right-center field. Lugo scored easily, making it 6-2.
NEW YORK -- Put it this way: It could have been a lot worse.
A one-out double by Robinson Cano and back-to-back walks to Doug Mientkiewicz and Johnny Damon loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth. The Yankees only got one run out of it, though, and it took a lot of hustle from Derek Jeter to get even that. He hit a potential double-play grounder to short, but hustled down the line and beat the throw, allowing Cano to score.
Julian Tavarez (AP Photo, left) retired Hideki Matsui to end the inning and wasn't lifted until there were two outs in the sixth, with the Sox still leading, 4-2. Javy Lopez came on with no one on and two outs to face the left-handed hitting Bobby Abreu. Lopez fanned Abreu on four pitches, sending the Sox into the seventh with a 4-2 lead.
NEW YORK . . . thanks to a little Julian Tavarez wildness.
A one-out single by Hideki Matsui -- the Yankees' first hit of the game -- and a two-out single by Jorge Posada put New York runners at first and third. Tavarez then threw a wild pitch, allowing Matsui to score from third and cutting the Red Sox' lead to 4-1.
NEW YORK -- For the second straight night, Billy Crystal is in the seat directly next to the Yankee dugout. Haven't yet spotted Chazz Palmentieri, who was in a front-row seat behind the Red Sox' on-deck circle last night.
NEW YORK -- Unlike Monday night, when they wasted numerous opportunities against Chien-Ming Wang, the Red Sox capitalized on a first-inning chance tonight. After back-to-back singles by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez clubbed a long home run to left field off Mike Mussina -- his 51st career home run against the Yankees -- and gave the Sox a quick 3-0 lead.
Another Sox-Yankee matchup coming Wednesday: Clemens vs. Buchholz
NEW YORK -- The attention will all be focused on Roger Clemens, but Clay Buchholz (left) -- the Red Sox' 2006 Minor League Pitcher of the Year -- will be the other guy on the mound tomorrow when Clemens makes his second minor-league start as he works his way back to the Yankees.
Clemens will be pitching for the Yanks' Double-A affiliate in Trenton at home against Buchholz and the Portland Sea Dogs, the Sox' Double-A team.
"I'm sure that will be a very exciting game for [Buchholz],'' said Red Sox manager Terry Francona today at Yankee Stadium. ''Knowing him, he'll treat it with the proper respect.
''And I hope he pitches better than the other guy.''
Buchholz, 22, is 1-1 with a 1.82 ERA in seven starts so far this year. He had a combined record of 11-4 last season, which he split between Greenville and Wilmington.
NEW YORK -- Some quick news bites from Yankee Stadium . . .
-- Josh Beckett will throw a five-inning simulated game in the bullpen tomorrow and fully expects to make his next start Tuesday against the Indians at Fenway Park.
-- Yogi Berra visited the Red Sox clubhouse and signed balls for Coco Crisp and Javy Lopez. ''He always makes a point of coming in to say hello,'' said Terry Francona. ''That's pretty awesome for me.''
-- Mike Timlin played catch on the side and is scheduled for another mound session later this week. He threw off a mound yesterday for the first time since going on the disabled list May 3 because of shoulder tendinitis.
According to a poll that will be released in this week's Sports Illustrated, the Red Sox are the fourth most-popular team among major-league players.
The press release:
Sports Illustrated asked 464 MLB Players: “If you could play for any major league team other than your own, which one would it be?”
San Diego Padres: 10%
New York Yankees: 10%
Atlanta Braves: 10%
Boston Red Sox: 8%
St. Louis Cardinals: 7%
FAST FACTS: The poll was taken just before the start of the season . . . Every team received a vote except for the Washington Nationals . . . The Detroit Tigers, last year’s AL representative in the World Series, received just one vote, the same as the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays . . . The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (seventh, 5.5%) edged the L.A. Dodgers (eighth, 5.2%) . . . More than 18% of players 27 years old or younger voted for the Braves.
-Kevin Youkilis, 14-game hitting streak, going 27 for 61 (.443) with eight doubles, four homers, 14 RBI and 11 runs scored.
-David Ortiz, 14 for his last 130 (.338) with seven homers, 32 RBI
-Dustin Pedroia, 15 for his last 38 (.395) with four doubles, a home run and five RBI
-Jason Varitek, 17 for his last 44 (.362) with three doubles, a triple, a home run and 10 RBI
-Alex Cora, 4 for his last 26 (.154)
-J.D. Drew, 14 for his last 83 (.169)
-Julio Lugo, 2 for his last 21
-Manny Ramirez, 12-game home run drought
Red Sox vs. Mike Mussina
-Mike Lowell, 7 for 14 (.500), 1 HR
-Coco Crisp, 8 for 20 (.400)
-Julio Lugo, 6 for 23 (.261), 1 HR
-Manny Ramirez, 22 for 90 (.244), 5 HR
-David Ortiz, 11 for 49 (.224), 3 HR
-Kevin Youkilis, 2 for 9 (.222)
-Jason Varitek, 6 for 55 (.109)
-Alex Cora, 0 for 2
-Dustin Pedroia, 0 for 2
-J.D. Drew, 0 for 4
Yankees vs. Julian Tavarez
-Jorge Posada, 4 for 6 (.667), 1 HR
-Doug Mientkiewicz, 3 for 6 (.500), 1 HR
-Alex Rodriguez, 6 for 17 (.353)
-Bobby Abreu, 9 for 26 (.346), 3 HR
-Jason Giambi, 4 for 12 (.333)
-Johnny Damon, 3 for 11 (.273)
-Hideki Matsui, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Derek Jeter, 3 for 14 (.214)
-Robinson Cano, 0 for 6
-Three of the top home-run and RBI men in the major leagues since 2004 are playing in this game. David Ortiz has hit more homers (151) and knocked in more runs (460) than any other big leaguer since the start of '04. Manny Ramirez is second in RBI (401) and fifth in home runs (129); Alex Rodriguez is tied for third in RBI (400) and tied for third in home runs (137).
-Since 2003, the top four home run hitters against the Yankees are Ramirez (24), Ortiz (22), Jason Varitek (12) and Vernon Wells (12).
-Ramirez is fifth all time in home runs hit against the Yankees, with 50, and fifth in RBI against the Yankees, with 147.
By Dan Hickling
Special to The Journal
OTTAWA -- It began just after breakfast this morning, and lingered through a long lunch. Even so, the top of the Pawtucket Red Sox batting order kept the table set all day.
The top three PawSox hitters -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Bobby Scales and David Murphy -- combined for nine of the club’s 14 hits, fueling a 7-3 “Getaway Day” matinee win over the Ottawa Lynx.
Scales led the way, going 4-for-5 and driving in three runs.
“It makes that [nine-hour] bus ride a little bit better,” said Scales, who raised his batting average to a team-leading .323.
Pawtucket, which is now on its best tear of the season (6-3 since May 13), bolted to a 4-0 first inning lead.
“Today was a good effort,” said Scales, “because everybody had good at bats. That’s all you’re trying to do.”
Ellsbury got things started with a single that was misplayed into a two-base error by Ottawa center fielder Chris Roberson.
Run-scoring hits by Scales (single) and Jeff Bailey (double) followed before Brandon Moss capped the outburst by slamming a fastball from Lynx starter Heath Totten (1-2) over the right-field wall.
It was Moss’ team-high eighth homer of the season.
“That’s a nice little scripted situation,” said PawSox bench boss Ron Johnson. “You get those guys on. The pig gets fat and the hog gets greedy.”
Pawtucket starter Abe Alvarez (3-3) rolled easily through the first five frames, leaving the Lynx stymied with his off-speed selections.
“That was vintage Abe Alvarez,” said Johnson. “He changed speeds. He filled up the [strike] zone. He got a lot of front foot swings.”
Said Alvarez, “Once I started getting into a groove, I started to speed things up. I got them to hit ground balls.”
Alvarez was on his way to a scoreless outing after retiring the first two Lynx in the bottom of the sixth.
But while covering first on a routine grounder by Dustin Wathan, Alvarez dropped Bailey’s throw, which opened the door to a three-run Ottawa rally, slicing the Pawtucket lead to 4-3.
“Jeff made a great play over there,” said Alvarez, “and I just kind of took my eye off the ball for a second, found the base [with my foot] and it hit off my glove.”
But that proved to be just a small speed bump for the PawSox.
The PawSox immediately replied with a three-spot of their own, with Scales singling in two runs to put the game away.
“I think we’re starting to break out of it,” said Scales of the PawSox effort to escape the North Division cellar. “We had some really tough luck early in the year, but I think things are starting to go our way.”
AROUND THE BASES: One PawSox who is angling for a return to “the Show” is newly signed OF Michael Tucker. Tucker, who has logged 12 major league seasons with seven different clubs, was signed by Boston as a minor league free agent last week, after working out at the Red Sox minor league complex at Fort Myers, Fla. “That’s what we’re working toward,“ said Tucker. “That’s what we talked about before I even signed a contract. I’m trying to acclimate (myself) as quickly as possible. These guys have been playing, and I’m trying to catch up with them. Get back into a groove.”… It may be one of the great anomalies of the season to date. The Lynx, who own the fourth best team batting average in the IL (.268 heading into yesterday), have hit just six home runs all year. Pawtucket batters, next to last in the league (.240) have now blasted 30 round trippers… The PawSox are off tomorrow, but begin an eight-game home stand Thursday, with Syracuse coming in for a four-game set. Rehabbing lefty Jon Lester (2-3, 5.58) will get the series-opening start against Chiefs RHP Josh Thompson (1-0, 1.69).
YouTube video: Roger Clemens coaches first base at his nephew's game
Wonder what Roger Clemens will be off doing when he's away from the Yankees per terms of his flex contract? At least part of the time he might be coaching first base at his nephew's youth-league game in Texas, as he's doing here (and is captured on this YouTube video):
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Yankee fans mellowing? Steinbrenner mellowing?
From New York, Sean McAdam joins Art Martone for today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. He talks about last night's frustrating Red Sox loss, and also about the changed atmosphere in New York (at least temporarily changed) now that the team has been struggling. Click here to listen to the full, seven-and-a-half-minute audio file. In the meantime, here are a few of Sean's comments.
On Wakefield's performance: "[It was] just one of those nights where he was unable to throw the pitch for strikes consistenly -- he walked five -- and then when he did throw the ball in the strike zone, too often it was up in the zone and pretty inviting to hitters like Rodriguez and Giambi."
On chastened Yankee fans: "There wasn't that sort of cockiness that you get, where Yankee fans are taunting Red Sox players before the game and sort of walking in there with their chests stuck out. They were a little bit less ferocious than they usually are, given the way their team is playing."
On whether Steinbrenner's in firing mode: "It's now entirely impossible to predict what George Steinbrenner is going to do. And that used to be the case on another level: He was so volatile, so explosive, so unpredictable, that they could lose three in a row to Kansas City sometime and he'd fire the pitching coach just for the pleasure of doing it. Now he's unpredictable in another way, in that he's kind of lost his bite, and he doesn't overreact the way he used to."
'HE'S DEFINITELY LOST SOMETHING': So says an unnamed scout regarding Johnny Damon (New York Daily News), but whatever he lost, he may have begun to get back last night (3-for-4, two stolen bases). It came after he was held out of a game last week in Chicago, which may have been Joe Torre's way of sending Damon a message to pick up his game. In any case, Torre was pleased with the results last night. (New York Post)
DAILY CUP OF JOE: Even Joe Posnanski is wondering why he puts so much effort -- and quality -- into a free blog. But I'm certainly glad he does, and this newest entry is fascinating: In the midst of a long Hall of Fame discussion, he looks at the best five-year pitching spans in baseball history. Two contemporary Red Sox make the top 10: Pedro Martinez, 1997-2001 (he's No. 1), and Roger Clemens 1988-92 (No. 8).
In a nutshell: Marlins reliever Justin Miller has tattoos on virtually every inch of his body from the neck down. One of them, on his butt, reads "I (heart) Billy Koch." (Koch, you may recall, is the off-center closer who lit up the American League skies for a bit in the late 1990s and early 2000s, mostly with Toronto, before flaming out at age 29 in 2004.) Koch, it turns out, paid Miller $1,000 -- plus the $80 bill to the tattooist -- to a) get the tattoo and b) place it on his derrierre. Then, because he felt bad that Miller's wife had to see it, he paid her $500.
Like I said: You can't make this stuff up.
MAKING A GOOD THING BETTER: Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City is one of my favorite ballparks, so I'm happy to hear the Royals are planning, in conjunction with Jackson County, Mo., a $250 million upgrade. You can see a gallery of drawings here. (Both stories, Kansas City Star)
TRADE TALK: The Angels apparently are interested in Jason Giambi (New York Post).
NOT CANCELLATION TALK: Peter Abraham says the chances of the Yankees' voiding Giambi's contract are nil. (yankees.lohudblogs.com)
NEW YORK -- Even if there's no such thing as a crucial series in May, it's undeniable the three-game series that opened at Yankee Stadium tonight between the Red Sox and Yankees is far more crucial to the struggling Yanks than it is to the streaking Sox.
That being the case, the Yankees got off on the right foot.
Chien-Ming Wang worked his way out of trouble all night but managed to hold Boston to two runs over seven innings, and the Yankee offense touched Tim Wakefield for two homers -- including a two-run, first-inning shot by Alex Rodriguez (above) -- and six runs as New York posted a 6-2 victory.
NEW YORK -- Tim Wakefield was all but unhittable over the first six weeks of the season.
Tonight he's been anything but.
The Yankees have touched him for a pair of home runs -- a two-run shot by Alex Rodriguez in the first and a solo blast by Jason Giambi in the second -- and added another run on a two-out, RBI single by Derek Jeter in the second as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead over the Red Sox after two innings tonight at Yankee Stadium.
The Sox, conversely, squandered scoring opportunities in each of their first two shots at Chien-Ming Wang. They stranded two runners in the first, and left the bases loaded in the second when Wang struck out Kevin Youkilis on a 3-and-2 pitch with two outs.
-- Mike Timlin threw from flat ground and is scheduled to throw off a mound today. ''This is a good step, getting him back on the mound,'' said Terry Francona. Timlin, suffering from tendinitis in his right shoulder, has been on the disabled list since May 3.
-- Francona was asked how it felt to be coming into Yankee Stadium with a 10 1/2-game lead. ''If this was September 29, I'd say awesome,'' said Francona. ''But it's May 21. They're not going to give us a ring, and I'm pretty sure they're not going to give us any money.''
NEW YORK -- Manny Delcarmen, called up from Pawtucket after Sunday night's game against Atlanta, is with the team at Yankee Stadium, though his role -- and the duration of his stay -- is still undefined.
''They told me it could be four days, it could be a week, it could be a month,'' Delcarmen said today. ''I just have to stay loose and be ready for anything.''
Manager Terry Francona said he wasn't sure how he'd use Delcarmen. ''It all depends on how the games go,'' he said when asked if Delcarmen would be pitching in long or short relief.
Delcarmen didn't pitch in his last four games with the PawSox and found the inactivity curious. Then, when manager Ron Johnson told him he was being called up to Boston, ''it all made sense.''
The Sox played three games in two days on Saturday and Sunday and have a need for fresh bullpen arms, particularly after the short start they received from Devern Hansack in the second game on Saturday.
Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has been named the Bank of America American League Player of the Week, according to the Red Sox official game notes for tonight.
Matsuzaka won both of his starts last week, pitching a complete game to defeat the Detroit Tigers on Monday, then beating the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
All told, Matsuzaka went 17 innings last week, giving up four earned runs on 15 hits. He struck out 11 and walked no one. He improved his season record to 5-2, and lowered his E.R.A. from 4.80 entering the week to 4.06.
-Kevin Youkilis, 13-game hitting streak, going 25 for 56 (.446) with six doubles, four home runs, 14 RBIs and 10 runs
-Mike Lowell, 11-game hitting streak, going 18 for 41 (.439) with four home runs and 14 RBIs
-Hideki Okajima, 20.2 consecutive scoreless innings out of the bullpen, the longest streak by a Boston left-hander since Bruce Hurst pitched 21.2 scoreless innings in May 1987.
-Alex Cora, 3 for his last 22 (.136)
-Doug Mirabelli, 1 for his last 20
-Brendan Donnelly, 9 hits and 5 runs allowed in last 3.1 innings
Red Sox vs. Chien-Ming Wang
-Manny Ramirez, 10 for 16 (.625), 2 HR
-Eric Hinske, 10 for 19 (.526), 2 HR
-David Ortiz, 9 for 20 (.450), 2 HR
-Kevin Youkilis, 4 for 11 (.364)
-Alex Cora, 4 for 13 (.308), 1 HR
-Julio Lugo, 6 for 21 (.286)
-Coco Crisp, 3 for 12 (.250)
-Doug Mirabelli, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Mike Lowell, 3 for 15 (.200)
-Wily Mo Pena, 0 for 5
-J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia have no at-bats against Wang
Yankees vs. Tim Wakefield
-Melky Cabrera, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Derek Jeter, 27 for 84 (.321), 3 HR
-Josh Phelps, 8 for 25 (.320)
-Johnny Damon, 13 for 48 (.271), 2 HR
-Jorge Posada, 14 for 56 (.250), 3 HR
-Bobby Abreu, 4 for 16 (.250)
-Alex Rodriguez, 16 for 66 (.242), 5 HR
-Robinson Cano, 5 for 24 (.208), 1 HR
-Hideki Matsui, 7 for 40 (.175), 2 HR
-Jason Giambi, 14 for 81 (.173), 3 HR
-Doug Mientkiewicz, 1 for 16 (.063)
-Since the Yankees swept five games at Fenway Park in August 2006, the Red Sox are 8-2 against New York.
-In their last 100 meetings, including postseason, the Red Sox and the Yankees have each won 50 games.
-Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have each batted safely in 15 straight games. That's tied for the longest streak in the American League; Kevin Youkilis' 13-game streak is tied for third.
-The Red Sox were also 30-13 in the 2002 season. They failed to make the playoffs that year.
-But, for all those who say that we've seen this before: This is only the fifth time in major league history that any team has been in first place by 10.5 or more games as early as 43 games into a season. Every other team to have such a lead -- the 2001 Seattle Mariners, the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers, the 1912 New York Giants and the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates -- ended up finishing in first place.
-The Red Sox have won four straight on the road, and they're 14-5 against the American League East.
Here are Manny Ramirez's batting averages, on-base percentages and slugging percentages on this date in each of his Red Sox seasons. As the numbers indicate, this early-season slump has been longer and more severe than anything Ramirez has had in his career. He's had a lower batting average once (in 2005), but never has he come closee to having OBPs or slugging percentages as low this late in the season.
BOSTON (AP) — Going without health insurance is no day at the ballpark.
That’s the message from the Boston Red Sox and the state panel overseeing Massachusetts’ landmark health care insurance law.
The two are teaming up to launch a public education campaign, including television ads, to help Massachusetts residents understand the law ahead of a July 1 deadline by which virtually everyone in the state must be insured or face tax penalties.
The ads are set to be introduced Tuesday at a news conference at Fenway Park with top political leaders. The team and officials at the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, which oversees the law, declined to give additional details Monday.
Educating the public could prove daunting given the complexity of the law, which seeks to plug a series of holes in the state’s existing health care net.
Under the law, those making less than the federal poverty level of $10,210 for an individual are eligible to receive free care, while those making up to three times that level are eligible for discounted insurance.
Anyone with more than three times the federal poverty level can sign up for new, discounted health care plans offered through the connector authority.
Officials hope the new ads will support other public education efforts, including a hot line and new Web site.
Sean McAdam is today's guest on Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean sets up this week's Red Sox-Yankees series, laying out the stakes for the New York team, and sums up yesterday's fine performance by Kason Gabbard.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Gabbard: "Gabbard's a guy that really caught their attention not only last year when he came up and made three starts, but also by how well he pitched in sprint training. So I don't think they were too surprised by how effective he was."
On the Yankees: "I think for their own confidence and well-being, and sort of chipping away at this lead, that they reallly need to get two out of three. Even that will only net them a game in the standings, but to get it down from double digits where it is now, 10 1/2 and 10 in the loss column, would at least get them pointed in the right direction, and then they tell themselves Clemens is not far behind, and then of course they get another crack at the Red Sox coming up in two weekends back at Fenway. But as much as people say there are four plus months left in this season, after Wednesday night the season series between these teams will be half over, and the opportunities for the Yankees to make up ground head to head against the Red Sox will start to slip away. So I think they've got to make some inroads in the next three nights."
HERE'S SOMETHING YOU DON'T SEE EVERY DAY: If a poll had been taken to choose a player in this weekend series would go 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in a game, the consensus choice probably would have been Wily Mo Pena. But, no, the honor -- such as it is -- went to the Braves' All-Everything center fielder, Andruw Jones. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
BET YOU THOUGHT I WAS CALLING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE: Safe to say that 15 or 20 years ago, George Steinbrenner's Saturday night phone call to Joe Torre would have unfolded differently than this. (New York Daily News)
BIGGER ISSUES: Jason Giambi's tacit admission that he took steroids could lead the Yankees to void his contract, though general manager Brian Cashman's lip is zipped on the subject at this point. (New York Daily News)
Members of the Fenway grounds crew were loudly cheered as they ran on the field at 3:39 p.m. and began moving the tarp.
The fans had been getting edgy for the previous 15 minutes as the rain stopped and skies brightened. As became obvious when the crew pulled the tarp back to the outfield, the rain was significant. There are now big puddles 15 feet into the outfield. That is planned, though. That's where the drains are.
The final stage of removing the tarp drew more reaction as three members of the grounds crew fell as the tarp was hualed back toward the infield. Movement does not stop once it begins so the three workers briefly disappeared then crawled out the edge of the tarp, to the cheers of the fans.
The Sox just announced that the goal is to begin the game at 4:30. However, weather reports indicate more rain could be on the way which could jeopardize those plans.
The Red Sox, putting their trust in their weather service, just announced that the start of today’s game will be delayed.
As we sit here 45 minutes before game time, skies are cloudy and the crowd is gathering. It does not seem unpleasant. However, the tarp will remain on the field and the game against the Braves will be delayed.
``The current forecast in the vicinity of Fenway Park calls for moderate to heavy rain showers to move through the area over the course of the next hour and for intermittent light rain showers this afternoon,’’ the statement reads. The Sox have a private weather service, Meterologix, which they rely on.
``Based on this information the start of today’s game will be delayed,’’ the statement reads. ``The Red Sox will do everything possible to make certain today’s game with the Braves will be played,’’ it went on. ``However, the Red Sox want to alert our fans to the current forecast and the possibility of further delays for this afternoon.
``This forecast is, of course, subject to change as the day progresses and weather updates will be provided as necessary.’’’
Kason Gabbard is going through a little different preparation for his first Boston start.
The pitcher promoted from Pawtucket to take the mound for the Red Sox today has been assigned the locker just inside the front door to the clulbhouse. It is a spot that goes to one of the new guys since it is traffic heavy area.
Most pitchers prefer to be left alone on days when they are starting, so they can concentrate. Gabbard is trying to do that but it's not easy.
First of all, he has people _ players, club officials and reporters _ constantly going past as they enter and leave the clubhouse. Beyond that, a number of players are coming up to welcome him to the team. Alex Cora just did so.
Pitching coach John Farrell did, too, but that’s one person Gabbard obviously wants to speak with. Farrell gave Gabbard some notes to study and the two spoke briefly before Darrell departed, saying the two would get together again closer to game time.
For what it’s worth, we just had a pretty good shower move through. The sun had come out briefly around 11 a.m. But then a fairly heavy shower arrived and stayed for about 15 minutes. It is overcast now but the rain has stopped.
Everyone is off to a bit of a late start today, a concession to the long day and night r Saturday.
The lineups show both managers acknowledging the need for some rest. Both the Sox and Braves have different looks. Here they are:
C. Jones DH
“He did a great job,” said Mike Lowell. “He was very efficient, especially through the first six innings and then he was sitting on the bench for a while because we scored (five) runs [in the bottom of sixth inning]. It’s not that easy to pitch when you have such a big lead because you don’t want to have that fine line between nit-picking and going after (hitters). He did a great job. All of our pitchers are doing a phenomenal job for us, keeping us games when we’re not hitting and keeping the other team at by when we are.”
On his grand slam:
“I didn’t want to get too riled up with the bases loaded,” said Lowell. “I wanted to just concentrate on a normal good at-bat and look for a pitch to hit. He left the pitch over the plate and I hit it pretty good.”
Dice-K on the disappointed of not being able to record a complete game:
"Given my pitch count (104) at the end of the eighth inning, I was expecting to go back out there in the ninth. I think given my pace up to that point, it would have been normal to go back for the ninth inning, but the manager came in and spoke to me and said 'given our big lead, go and get some rest.' "
Pena made me eat my words on the previous post. Even though he made two questionable defensive plays in the top of the seventh, the big man just crushed a monster of a solo home run that landed somewhere in New Hamsphire. His roundtripper gives Boston a 13-3 lead and a season-high 16 hits. Wow! Pena's shot got out of here in a hurry. So much for a comeback.
With the Red Sox leading 12-0 in the top of the seventh inning, manager Terry Francona replaced Manny Ramirez with Wily Mo Pena in left field. With Boston playing three games in a 24-hour period, the lineup change makes sense. Here's hoping the Braves don't mount an historic comeback.
Red Sox' Mike Lowell just crushed a grand slam off Atlanta pitcher Mark Redman in the bottom of the fifth for a 7-0 Boston lead. It was Lowell's sixth salami of his career, and the ball cleared everything over the Monster.
So far today, Boston's third baseman is 2-for-3, including a double in the third that extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Can you say cycle?
Kevin Youkilis just smoked a two-run homer to center field to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. The roundtripper, Youk's fifth of the season, gives Boston a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Youk is clearly dialed in right now.
Red Sox lead-off man, Julio Lugo, hit a home run in his first at-bat. He drove a 1-1 offering off Braves starter Anthony Lerew into the Monster seats. It was the first lead-off homer of the season for the Red Sox and the eighth of Lugo's career.
The current weather forecast (provided by the Red Sox private weather service, Meteorlogix) in the vicinity of Fenway Park calls for intermittent light rain showers this afternoon.
The Fenway Park gates will open at the regularly scheduled time of 11:05 a.m. for today’s 1:05 p.m. game, and the Red Sox will do everything possible to make certain this afternoon’s game will be played. However, the Red Sox want to alert our fans to the current forecast and the possibility of delays for this afternoon.
This forecast is of course subject to change as the day progresses. There will be another weather update at approximately 11:00 a.m.
Numerous Atlanta Braves players just made their way from the clubhouse to the Green Monsters. With Interleague play beginning today at Fenway Park -- last night's game was postponed due to inclement weather -- this is the first trip to the storied ballpark for some National League players.
Players entered through the door in the scoreboard and they're getting an up-close-and-personal look inside the Monster. Some are even standing on the top step of the visitor's dugout taking pictures of the wall and the field.
I arrived at Fenway about 30 minutes ago and the tarp was off and the grounds crew was working on the field. The crew just put the tarp back on its being anchored into the ground, which is not a good sign for the first game of today's scheduled day-night doubleheader. It's misting at Fenway, but there's no word yet on any delay.
As soon as more info becomes available I'll pass it along. . .
The Red Sox and Braves will try to play two Saturday at Fenway. Game 1 is set for 1:05. The nightcap is scheduled for 7:35. Rain is expected to threaten the start of the day game, at a minimum.
The two teams thought about playing one game Saturday and one Sunday and finding a spot in the schedule to make up the rain out. Player's Association rules that insist on a certain number of off days limited that option, however.
The Red Sox will start Diasuke Matsuzaka in the day game and he'll be opposed by Anthony Lerew. Dice K was slated to face Hall of Famer in waiting John Smoltz but the Braves will hold Smoltz back until the night game when he'll face fill-in starter Devern Hansack.
The extra day off will help the Sox heal a few bruises (like JD Drew's back) and get some time for the players who went 18 innings on Thursday (like Manny Ramirez). Ramirez wasn't in the lineup for Friday's game because he played two on Thursday. The plan now is for Drew to play once Saturday and try to come back on Sunday.
Terry Francona spoke about how much more comfortable he is with the pool of pitchers at Pawtucket who the Sox can call up at a moment's notice. That wasn't the case late last year when the Sox were searching the waiver wire for pitching help (Jason Johnson anyone?) in the heat of the summer.
The Sox are still expected to call up Kasson Gabbard for Sunday's series finale but no official word will come until Saturday, if not Sunday. The Braves have former Oakland ace Tim Hudson ready to throw Sunday.
That's it until tomorrow. Let's play two.
Welcome to beautiful Fenway Park for the start of inter-league baseball tonigth when the Red Sox entertain the Atlanta Braves.
It's pouring here at Fenway - like it was in Providence an hour ago when Steve Krasner and myself left town. The Red Sox have NOT cancelled the game. Yet. It would be the shock of shocks if this one gets in but if you have tickets and can't wait to pay $40 to park, buy a few $7 beers and a $4 hot dog or three, the Sox would love to see you drive north this afternoon.
The weather geeks are predicting a 100% chance of rain from now until 2 a.m. But this Red Sox ownership regularly hangs in as long as possible before cancelling a game. As soon as it happens, we'll bring it to you on the blog.
Time to head for the clubhouse and count puddles along the way.
It was a mixed day yesterday for Manny Ramirez. In the opener, he collected two hits, driving in the Red Sox' first-inning run with a single and then adding a somewhat controversial single later in the game on a ball that a fan interfered with. In the second game, Ramirez went 0 for 4, striking out in his first 3 at-bats. The first two strikeouts were called third strikes from Chad Durbin. Ramirez, uncharacteristically, barked at home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman on the second called third strike.
According to The Boston Globe, Ramirez has been called out on strikes 18 times this season, after being called out 23 times all of last season. Certainly, Ramirez's struggles have nothing to do with his swinging at bad pitches. He ranks 12th in the American League in percentage of pitches taken, at 62.6 percent. That puts him right behind the famously patient Jason Giambi. Teammate Kevin Youkilis is ninth.
McAdam says that the Red Sox' remarkable double-header sweep shows how they are getting contributions from everyone -- even the Julian Tavarezes and Eric Hinskes on the roster. He's not too concerned about J.D. Drew missing time, and he thinks the indications on Josh Beckett coming back in a couple of weeks are good.
He also sounded off on Jason Giambi's comments in USA Today. Giambi more or less admitted to being a past user of steroids, and said the players and the owners should have apologized to fans long ago for widespread drug use.
Sean says the steroid era will be a dark chapter in the game's history, but he finds Giambi's statements hard to swallow. Here is, in part, what Sean had to say:
"I'm of mixed mind about it. Giambi has nuanced this thing to death ever since his testimony in the Balco case first became public record, issuing that vaguest of apologies a couple of years ago without quite clarifying what it was that he was apologizing about. And it's clear that the reason he was so careful in how he worded things was that he didn't want to have his contract voided, as was being threatened by the Yankees if he had ever used the 's' word, which could have been grounds for termination of his contract. Well, it seems to me that a guy who's so worried about whether his contract is going to be ratified, or invalidated, shouldn't be telling others what they should and should not be apologizing for."
IT'S ALL GOOD: Webster's definition of "You're going good": You win one game when your No. 5 starter pitches seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball against the defending league champions. You win another when your No. 1 starter somehow gives up only two runs despite allowing seven doubles, a home run, and four walks in six innings, and your third-string right fielder (right, Journal photo by Kris Craig) a) makes a catch for the ages and b) breaks a month-long slump with a game-winning home run.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Sox placed Josh Beckett on the disabled list after last night's game, and -- as we reported in mid-afternoon yesterday on this very blog -- recalled Devern Hansackto pitch tonight against Atlanta. Beckett was placed on the DL retroactive to last Monday so he'll be eligible to be reactivated on Tuesday, May 29, and Terry Francona said last night that Beckett will pitch that night against the Indians. If all goes according to plan, Beckett will only miss two starts: tonight, and Wednesday in New York against the Yankees. The Sox also need a starter for this Sunday, and, as Kevin McNamara reported in his PawSox game story, all signs point to Kason Gabbard. (This, of course, is contrary to the conventional wisdom of yesterday morning, when it was thought Gabbard would start tonight.) If it all sounds convoluted, it's because Wednesday's rainout forced a juggling of the rotation; the Sox pushed Tim Wakefield back a day and will start him Monday in New York to avoid having to use Hansack and Gabbard in two of the three games at Yankee Stadium next week. Of course, more rain is on the way this weekend and that may force even more changes, so stay tuned.
LOOKING WAY AHEAD: Bud Selig was in Boston yesterday and laid out his vision for the future of major league baseball. (projo.com) He didn't lay out his plans for honoring Barry Bonds when Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's home-run record; he has steadfastly refused to address the subject, and he steadfastly refused -- though in a polite way -- again last night.
I'M SORRY, SO SORRY: Another subject Selig has skirted over the years is steroid use. But in an interview with USA Today, Jason Giambi says baseball should have apologized years ago for its widespread drug problem, and -- for the first time, I believe -- admitted publicly that he was a user, saying, ''I was wrong for doing that stuff.'' The New York Daily News has more.
YOU LIKE ME! YOU REALLY LIKE ME! Seth Mnookin reports that lots of people liked the 2004 Red Sox. (sethmnookin.com)
WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY UP HERE: When the Yankees were struggling, they fired their strength-and-conditioning coach. When the Blue Jays were struggling, they extended the contract of theirs. (yahoo.com)
Curtis Granderson, cf
Placido Polanco, 2b
Gary Sheffield, DH
Magglio Ordonez, rf
Carlos Guillen, ss
Sean Casey, 1b
Marcus Thames, lf
Mike Rabelo, c
Brandon Inge, 3b
Starting pitcher: Chad Durbin (3-1, 5.08)
Boston Red Sox J
Coco Crisp, cf
Alex Cora, ss
Kevin Youkilis, 1b
Manny Ramirez, DH
Mike Lowell, 3b
Jason Varitek, c
Eric Hinske, rf
Wily Mo Pena, lf
Dustin Pedroia, 2b
Starting pitcher: Curt Schilling (4-1, 3.63)
Note: Although Francona said following the first game that J.D. Drew was going to try to play in the nightcap, he must not have liked what he saw when the outfielder went down to the cage to loosen up this afternoon.
Sox manager Terry Francona says outfielder J.D. Drew is going to try to play in tonight’s game. Francona did not play Drew in the opener to give him more time to recover after slamming into the wall in front of the Sox bullpen while tracking a ball on Tuesday.
``We’re going to try,'' Francona said. ``It’s not the perfect conditions with the weather, but he wants to try to play. We’re going to let him go down to the cage and loosen up and see. And I might go down there with him. I want to see how he’s doing, but he wants to play. So we’ll see.’’
Francona also said that Wily Mo Pena is going to play left field, so that Manny Ramirez can take David Ortiz' place in the DH spot.
``(Ortiz) probably shouldn’t have played today,'' Francona said. ``He was sick and he said, `I was this close to calling you this morning, but I know it’s a double header.’ So we’re going to let him kind of gather himself a little bit here later today.’’
* With his sixth-inning single, Mike Lowell extended his hitting streak to eight games. He has gone 12-for-30 during that stretch with a double, three homers and nine RBI, five runs and four walks. Lowell has had at least one hit in 31 of his 37 games this season.
* More on Kevin Youkilis' career-high 10-game hitting streak: He has recorded at least two hits in 8 of those 10 games and is hitting .476 (20-for-42) during that stretch with 5 doubles, 2 home runs, 10 RBI, 8 runs and 2 walks.
* Including today's win, Boston is 7-3 in one-run games.
* Boston has played 42 day-night doubleheaders at Fenway since 1970, winning both games 14 times, losing both games 8 times and splitting the other 20.
The Red Sox' 2-1 win over Detroit in today's opener was clinched by two solid relief efforts.
Taking over for starter Julian Tavarez in the eighth, Hideki Okajima forced the Tigers' Placido Polanco to fly out to right, struck out Gary Sheffield and got clean-up hitter Magglio Ordonez to pop up to first.
In so doing, Okajima extended his scoreless streak to 18 2/3 innings over his last 18 outings. Recording nearly half of his 45 outs with strikeouts, he has retired 53 of the last 62 batters he has faced and boasts an ERA of 0.46.
Making his first save appearance since May 6 at Minnesota, Papelbon struck out Carlos Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez, then got Sean Casey to ground out to short en route to his 11th save. He has pitched four shutout innings with three saves in his last four appearances, blowing his only save on May 1 against Oakland.
``It's so nice to be able to get to the eighth and feel like regardless of what the score is, you're going to win,'' said Sox skipper Terry Francona. ``It doesn't necessarily always work out that way, but we should have a lot of confidence in the way those guys are throwing. I know our team does. I know they do. Okajima throws strikes and it doesn't matter if he's facing a lefty or righty, he's equally as tough.''
You can push his starts up or back. You can tell him he’s pitching at noon, 7 o’clock at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Julian Tavarez will assure you that he’s ready to go.
``I grew up playing ball,’’ Tavarez, who hails from the Dominican Republic, said after pitching the Sox to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers this afternoon. ``I never went to school in my life, not even one day. The only thing I did was play ball in the street, and that’s the only thing I know how to do. To me, everything is mental. My mind is always ready for anything. To me, nothing bothers me. I’m always like, ``I’m ready. I’m ready to play.’’ It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 in the morning. Let’s start the game. It’s the only thing I know how to do is play ball. I work really hard in the weight room and running and come early to the ballpark, but there’s only one thing that’s in my mind. If you think, `It’s only three days rest. I’m not strong enough to go out there,’’ just don’t go out and pitch because you’re not going to last long on the mound. To me, it’s like, `I’m ready.’ I’m fine, no pain in my body I’m fine. I’m going to go out there and give it my best.’’
Working a season-high seven innings, Tavarez gave up one run on four hits, walking four and striking out three.
After throwing fewer than 100 pitches in each of his previous 12 starts, he tossed 104 pitches today - his most since throwing 106 in a start on Aug. 30, 2002 against Pittsburgh when he was with Florida.
Sox manager Terry Francona on Tavarez' performance today: ``A couple of times, he pitched himself into a bind by getting ahead of the hitter and then walking. It's so nice to see him be able to dial up, making a pitch. After doing that, once to (Gary Sheffield), you see the way the inning is going so many times when you walk people to get to that situation and make a bad pitch and all of a sudden, it's a multi-run inning. Then he gathered himself and went out and was really good in six and seven.''
Buoyed by a solid performance by right-hander Julian Tavarez (right, AP Photo), Boston strengthened its hold on the A.L. East and took a 2-1 lead in its four-game series with Detroit, defeating the Tigers, 2-1, this afternoon, in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
Tavarez improved to 2-4, scattering four hits over seven innings.
The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Coco Crisp avoided the tag on Tigers short stop Carlos Guillen's attempt to turn a double play on a David Ortiz grounder. Seeing third base unattended because of the shift Detroit had on Ortiz, Crisp capitalized on the opportunity to take an extra base.
The speedy outfielder then scored on a Manny Ramirez liner to center.
Julio Lugo reached base in the third when Guillen misplayed his hard grounder, advanced on a walk to Ortiz and scored on Kevin Youkilis' RBI single to right to make it 2-0.
Craig Monroe got one run back for the Tigers in the fifth when he walked and later scored on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.
But Tavarez pitched two more scoreless innings and Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon took it from there with each pitching a scoreless inning of relief to secure the win for Boston.
Lefty Hideki Okajima has just relieved Julian Tavarez in the top of the eighth.
Tavarez leaves the game with a 2-1 lead having given up four hits over seven innings in a stellar start. The right-hander threw 104 pitches, 60 of them for strikes, recording three strikeouts and walking four.
Dustin and Kelli Pedroia to kick off skin cancer awareness campaign
Tomorrow, Red Sox infielder Dustin Pedroia and his wife Kelli will help the Sox and the American Academy of Dermatology kick off its 2007 Play Smart When It Comes To The Sun program, a public education campaign to raise awareness about skin cancer detection and prevention. (Kelli Pedroia is a survivor of melanoma.)
The campaign, being held in conjunction with Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, aims to make people aware that skin cancer affects 1 in 5 Americans with more than 1 million new cases being diagnosed each year. More than 108, 230 of those cases turn out to be melanoma, a cancer that claims 8,110 lives each year.
It will also be pointed out through the program that the baseball community should be particularly mindful of the potentially life-threatening condition and ways to protect against it, given the countless hours that players and fans alike spend in the mid-day sun.
Sox kick off Interleague Play tomorrow against Braves
With the 11th season of Interleague Play between the American League and National League kicking off tomorrow, the Red Sox will close their 10-game homestand wit a three-game set against the Atlanta Braves.
American League East clubs will primarily play against the National League West, while the N.L. Central teams will face the A.L. West and N.L. East clubs will match up against the A.L. Central.
The Sox and Minnesota Twins boasted the best records in Interleague Play last season, with both posting 16-2 marks. They were followed by the Detroit Tigers (15-3), Chicago White Sox (14-4), Seattle Mariners (14-4) and Colorado Rockies (11-4).
At 103-73, the New York Yankees own the best record since the inception of Interleague Play in 1997. Among N.L. Clubs, the Florida Marlins have the best overall mark at 96-72.
Kevin Youkilis just hit an RBI single to right that drove in Julio Lugo and gives the Sox a 2-0 lead over Baltimore in the third inning.
Now 2-for-2 today, he came into the game having hit safely in nine straight and 18 of his last 19 games. His .333 average coming in ranks him sixth in the American League. Youkilis leads A.L. first basemen in average, hits and on-base percentage.
When Manny Ramirez lined a single to center, driving in Cocoa Crisp from third in the first inning, the Sox slugger brought his RBI total to 1,541, moving him past Willie Stargell for sole possession of 38th place on the all-time list.
With his single to center in the first inning, Kevin Youkilis extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Terry Francona found out earlier this week that divine intervention doesn't come cheap: Spotting two nuns sitting in the stands for Sunday's Boston-Baltimore game, the Sox manager threw a ball to one of them and said, ``We need a win tonight,'' to which she replied, ``There's another nun here.'' Francona tossed another ball over and asked, ``Is that two wins?'' Her answer: ``If you sign the balls.''
``It turned into a 20-minute thing, but we won the game,'' Francona said of the Sox' 6-5 comeback over the Orioles.
(Note: The two nuns above, in a photo taken at Fenway Park by the Journal's Bob Breidenbach on May 2, weren't the nuns in question. But, hey, they could have been.)
Sox skipper Terry Francona announced some changes to the pitching rotation.
This is how he plans to go:
This afternoon against the Tigers: Julian Tavarez
Tonight against the Tigers: Curt Schilling
Tomorrow against Atlanta Braves: TBA, although it is likely Boston will call up Kason Gabbard from Pawtucket to replace Josh Beckett who tore the skin off the top of the middle finger of his throwing hand.
Saturday against Atlanta Braves: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Sunday against Atlanta Braves: TBA, since Francona decided to give Tim Wakefield an extra day
Curtis Granderson, cf
Placido Polanco, 2b
Gary Sheffield, DH
Magglio Ordonez, rf
Carlos Guillen, ss
Ivan Rodriguez, c
Sean Casey, 1b
Craig Monroe, lf
Brandon Inge, 3b
Starting pitcher: Zach Miner (first appearance)
Boston Red Sox J
Julio Lugo, ss
Coco Crisp, cf
David Ortiz, DH
Manny Ramirez, lf
Kevin Youkilis, 1b
Mike Lowell, 3b
Eric Hinske, rf
Doug Mirabelli, c
Alex Cora, 2b
Starting pitcher: Julian Tavarez (1-4, 6.60)
* Mike Maroth was orginally tabbed to pitch for Detroit, but was scratched because of illness.
* Wily Mo Pena was going to play right field last night in place of J.D. Drew, in part because Drew was still recovering from running into the wall in front of the Sox' bullpen and in part because Maroth is a lefty.
Sox manager Terry Francona still decided to give Drew the game off even though Zach Miner is a right-hander, but now Eric Hinske is playing right.
Francona did not say whether Drew will play the nightcap.
* Dustin Pedroia was slated to play second last night, but has been replaced in the lineup by Alex Cora.
* Doug Mirabelli is behind the plate for this one instead of Jason Varitek.
Sean McAdam is Art Martone's guest on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. McAdam discusses what appears to be the imminent call-up of Kason Gabbard (below) to take Josh Beckett's scheduled start tomorrow against Atlanta. Click here to listen to the full audio file.
Here's some of what Sean had to say: "Certainly all signs point to Gabbard. He was limited to five innings in his last start [on Monday]. He'd be going on somewhat short rest, but I think all they'd be looking for tomorrow night given the circumstances would be five or six innings. And I would expect that the roster move to correspond to make room -- assuming that they don't decide to put Beckett on the DL, and I don't think they want to do that just yet because it would take him out of at least one more start -- is they would return Javy Lopez to Pawtucket. He's this year's yo-yo guy, because he is not out of optoins and can be moved back and forth at will. So my guess is that Lopez goes down for a couple of guys and Gabbard comes up, and then they flip flop them."
Sean also discusses why he thinks it is unlikely that Wily Mo Pena becomes the regular right fielder, even if J.D. Drew ends up being out longer than expected.
The Detroit Tigers have changed their starter for the first game of today's double-header at Fenway Park. With Mike Maroth reportedly suffering from the flu, Zach Miner will make his first start of the season. The Sox will still go with Julian Tavarez.
ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski today takes snippets of major-league scouting reports written about current stars back when they were in high school or college, and asks readers to match the quote with the player it was intended to describe. At the risk of ruining the quiz, three of them are about Ramirez:
"Looks lackadaisical at times, but don't let it fool you -- he can play! I don't feel he realizes his baseball potential. He works hard. Only player between games taking ground balls. A good one!"
"This boy may be best free-agent hitter I've seen. Compact swing, super bat speed, drives every ball."
The Red Sox have signed 35-year-old journeyman outfielder Michael Tucker to a minor-league contract, and assigned him to Pawtucket.
Tucker fills the roster spot vacated by Alex Ochoa, who was released after yesterday's PawSox win.
Tucker was in the Mets organization last year, spending most of his time at Triple A Norfolk. In addition to the Mets, he has played in the big leagues with the Royals, the Braves, the Reds, the Cubs, the Giants and the Phillies over a 12-year big league career.
He is a .256 career hitter; his best season came with Atlanta in 1997, when he hit .283 with 14 home runs and 12 stolen bases.
-Kevin Youkilis, nine-game hitting streak, going 18 for 38 (.474) with five doubles, two home runs, nine RBI, eight runs and two walks
-Mike Lowell, seven-game hitting streak, going 11 for 27 (.407) with a double, three home runs, nine RBI, five runs and four walks
-Jason Varitek, 14 for his last 35 (.400) with three doubles, a home run, seven RBI, 11 runs and eight walks
-Alex Cora, 20 for his last 47 (.426); Red Sox are 11-1 in games he starts
-Coco Crisp, 9 for his last 45 (.200)
-Manny Ramirez, 2 for his last 12
-Doug Mirabelli, 1 for his last 14 (.071)
Tigers vs. Julian Tavarez
-Ivan Rodriguez, 7 for 15 (.467)
-Sean Casey, 6 for 17 (.353), 1 HR
-Gary Sheffield, 7 for 21 (.333)
-Placido Polanco, 4 for 12 (.333)
-Magglio Ordonez, 1 for 7 (.143), 1 HR
-Carlos Guillen, 0 for 1
-Neifi Perez, 0 for 5
Red Sox vs. Mike Maroth
-Jason Varitek, 10 for 16 (.625), 3 HR
-Manny Ramirez, 8 for 18 (.444)
-Julio Lugo, 4 for 11 (.364)
-Doug Mirabelli, 2 for 7 (.286), 2 HR
-Eric Hinske, 4 for 17 (.235), 1 HR
-Coco Crisp, 5 for 25 (.200)
-David Ortiz, 1 for 9 (.111)
-Kevin Youkilis, 0 for 2
-J.D. Drew, 0 for 3
Tigers vs. Curt Schilling
-Sean Casey, 6 for 16 (.375)
-Carlos Guillen, 2 for 6 (.333)
-Craig Monroe, 2 for 6 (.333)
-Omar Infante, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Ivan Rodriguez, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Marcus Thames, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Placido Polanco, 7 for 24 (.292)
-Magglio Ordonez, 2 for 7 (.286)
-Gary Sheffield, 14 for 66 (.212), 2 HR
-Neifi Perez, 5 for 25 (.200)
-Curtis Granderson, 1 for 8 (.125)
-Brandon Inge, 1 for 9 (.111)
Red Sox vs. Chad Durbin
-Julio Lugo, 1 for 1 (1.000)
-J.D. Drew, 2 for 4 (.500)
-Manny Ramirez, 1 for 2 (.500), 1 HR
-Jason Varitek, 1 for 3 (.333)
-David Ortiz, 0 for 3
-Eric Hinske, 0 for 6
-The Tigers have the major leagues' best record this month, at 10-3. The Red Sox are second at 10-4.
-This is the fifth time in Red Sox team history that they have won at least 26 of their first 38 games.
-Since 1970, the Red Sox have played 42 day-night double-headers at Fenway Park. They have swept 14 of them, split 20 of them, and have been swept on 8 occasions.
-The Red Sox' 3.17 E.R.A. is second-best in the American League (after Oakland) and the team's best after 37 games since 2001.
-The Sox are batting .321 as a team over the last eight games. Their team batting average for the season (.280) is second only to the Mets' in the major leagues.
PUT ME IN, COACH: On a night when rain -- Journal photo, above, by Kris Craig -- prevented anyone from playing, the stories were about two guys who can't wait to get back on the field. Jon Lester is chomping at the bit to pitch, and he'll get his chance Saturday at Ottawa in a 50- to 55-pitch outing for the PawSox. In his own way, Jonathan Papelbon is also chomping at the bit to pitch, but his relative inactivity is purely circumstantial. (All stories projo.com)
ENOUGH OF THIS: If the Yankees were cruising along, Wil Nieves' offensive ineptitude would be a source of amusement, especially since Jorge Posada is hitting like he never hit before. But they're not, so the Yankees apparently are trying to get Jose Molina from the Angels. (New York Daily News)
It was just announced that tonight's game between the Red Sox and Tigers has been postponed because of the heavy rains and inclement weather.
The game will be made up tomorrow as part of a day-night doubleheader. The first game will begin at 12:35 p.m., and tickets for tonight's game will be honored for the game. Gates will open at 10:35 a.m. at Fenway Park.
The pitching matchup for tomorrow's matinee remains the same as it was supposed to be tonight: Boston's Julian Tavarez will oppose Detroit's Mike Maroth.
The evening game, which remains at 7:05 p.m., will also feature the same pitching matchup as scheduled, with Curt Schilling opposing the Tigers' Chad Durbin.
A heavy rain has set in at Fenway Park, and things aren't looking good for tonight's game.
Though there was an earlier storm and the skies did brighten, apparently there was a second, stronger wave of clouds behind the first and that's what we're looking at now. And now there's the added bonus of thunder and lightning.
Glancing at the radar map on weather.com, the rain is covering nearly all of Massachusetts right now, and there's even heavier stuff near Worcester that's headed this way.
Terry Francona just announced that Josh Beckett will indeed miss his next scheduled start, on Friday, because of the avulsion on his right middle finger.
But there is no roster move to report, so at this point the team is not placing the ace on the disabled list.
Who the starter will be is unknown at this point -- Francona said it will not be Kyle Snyder, since he is both not stretched out enough and "we like him in his role." An as-yet-unnamed player will be called up from Pawtucket to make the start.
"Josh is doing very well, it's just not a mistake we want to make" by sending him out too early, Francona said. "Missing him for a start is not that nice, so to multiply" the number of starts he'd potentially miss would be worse.
When asked if Beckett would be back on the mound the next time his spot in the rotation came up, next Wednesday, Francona said, "We're 'til Friday. That's where we're stopping the media information."
Also from Francona's pre-game chat:
* Jon Lester threw a side session today and faced three hitters in a simulated situation. He will go to Ottawa to meet up with the PawSox this weekend and throw 50 to 55 pitches. "And he must be feeling good because he really fought us on that. He wanted to throw 100," Francona said.
Lester was close to making his return after being diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma last August, but he experienced tightness in his left forearm during his second rehab start with Pawtucket on May 2.
* J.D. Drew will not start tonight, with Wily Mo Pena getting the nod in right field instead. When he woke up this morning, Francona said, Drew didn't feel like he had hit a wall -- which he did, last night trying to catch a Brandon Inge home run -- and when he arrived at the ballpark, he didn't feel any worse than he did last night when he left the game after the seventh inning.
* Mike Timlin, recovering from tendinitis, played catch today and did fine. He will have a down day as far as the team's throwing program for him tomorrow, though Francona said he can play catch again if he'd like.
The grounds crew here at Fenway Park just pulled the tarp onto the field, and the sky here in Boston has quickly turned an ominous black.
In the words of a member of the park's security staff: "This does not look good."
Despite the major threat of storms -- on our way here, WBZ said there is a line of storms coming in quickly across Massachusetts -- Curt Schilling and a player we think is Josh Beckett (but we can't be sure from this distance, even with binoculars) are on the field playing catch.
The rain has started, though there are is no thunder or lightning just yet.
The PawSox beat Durham, 7-4, today at mcCoy Stadium. It was their fourth win in a row and fifth in the last six tries.
The PawSox fell behind 4-0 after three innings but battled back behind the home run ball and solid relief pitching by Manny Delcarmen, Bryan Corey and Mike Burns. Kevin Cash hit a 2-run homer in the fifth inning and a 2-run single by Brandon Moss gave the Sox a 6-4 lead. A Chad Spann solo homer made it 7-4 in the sixth inning. Perfect relief pitching over the final four innings preserved the win.
The Sox and Bulls play again Thursday night at McCoy.
The PawSox just scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead over the Durham Bulls, 6-4.
Kevin Cash hit a 2-run homer and Brandon Moss singled in two more runs to help the Sox rally from a 4-0 deficit.
It's 6-4 PawSox in the sixth. Manny Delcarmen is on the mound.
The PawSox are hosting the Durham Bulls on a beautiful spring day at McCoy Stadium. Abe Alvarez is on the mound and trailing, 1-0, after his second pitch of the game was knocked over the left field wall by Ben Zorbrist.
Things turned uglier in the third inning when the Bulls got two men on base and Shawn Riggans hit a fly ball to left that carried over the fence for a homer and a 4-0 lead.
So it's 4-0 after two and a half innings..
Today's guest on Projo SoxTalk is Kevin McNamara, who has been at Fenway the past two nights, and is now at McCoy Stadium to watch the Pawtucket Red Sox. Click here to listen to the full audio file. McNamara discusses the Red Sox-Tigers series and looks ahead to today's PawSox matinee with the Durham Bulls, which you can follow on this blog.
Here's what he had to say about the topics of the day.
On today's Pawtucket starter, Abe Alvarez (above, Journal photo by Gretchen Ertl): "He has really struggled for the last year and a half -- most of the heat of the summer last year he struggled as well. I think three years ago he had made that spot start, as I'm sure you remember, up at Fenway, and it hasn't really clicked for Abe. I can see this as a really important year for him. I don't know if he has many more years in Triple A, with this organization anyway, if he doesn't start to turn things around."
On last night's Verlander-Wakefield matchup: "[Verlander] had everything working. He was easily above 95 with the majority of his fastballs. He even hit 100 on the Fenway gun a few times, and you don't see that every day. Wakefield -- you know, I think it was a typical Tim Wakefield performance. It's not usual that he's going to go 7-8 innings without one choppy spot, and he did have that last night. And when Brendan Donnelly came in, he didn't help him at all. He certainly could have limited the damage a little bit, but that didnt happen."
On Josh Beckett: "I'd be surprised if they don't say something tonight, only because you can only keep these things hidden for so long. Either Beckett is going to continue his preparation to make his start, which I think is doubtful -- it doesn't make much sense to me for him not to miss at least one start, I mean, what's the big deal. Obviously things are going very well for the ballclub, and they play a team they're very unfamiliar with in the Atlanta Braves, so what's the hurry. And it's funny, Kyle Snyder came in and pitched last night, looked good, and if they're not going to make a move, he certainly looms as the chief candidate to make that start [on Friday]."
Tigers' hotshot pitcher Justin Verlander was able to cool off the Red Sox last night, allowing just two runs on six hits over 7 2/3 innings as Detroit took game two of its four-game series at Fenway Park, 7-2.
Verlander, the AL Rookie of the Year last season, threw a season-high 120 pitches, 79 of them for strikes. He used a fastball that topped out at 99 MPH with a variety of off-speed pitches that kept Boston hitters honest. In all, Verlander struck out seven and walked none.
He sat down the leadoff man in every inning, which Red Sox manager Terry Francona noted, adding that Verlander was ready to go from the start of every inning.
Boston starter Tim Wakefield went seven innings, but was done in by his nemesis, Magglio Ordonez, who is now 15-for-33 with two homeruns and 8 RBI off the knuckleballer.
Wakefield came into the game with an AL-best ERA of 1.79, but saw that mark rise to 2.41 with the five runs he gave up tonight. Reliever Brendan Donnelley gave up two more runs in 2/3 of an inning in the eighth. Kyle Snyder pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, with three strikeouts and a walk.
Boston remains atop the AL East is now 26-12 on the season, while the Tigers, who lead the AL Central, are 24-14. The Yankees' game with the White Sox was postponed, so the Red Sox' lead is eight games over New York.
The two home runs Tim Wakefield gave up in the third inning got out of Fenway Park in a hurry. Brandon Inge's solo shot to right was followed by a three-run shot to the Monster seats that was absolutely crushed by Magglio Ordonez.
Ordonez is now 14-for-32 (.438) against Wakefield in his career, with two home runs.
That solo home run by Detroit's Brandon Inge ended a 16-inning stretch of stinginess from Tim Wakefield. The last time Wakefield surrendered a run was April 28 against the Yankees, when he allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Wakefield's last two starts were both seven-shutout inning appearances, against the Twins and Blue Jays.
In his pre-game meeting with the media, Red Sox manager Terry Francona talked about the struggles of outfielder J.D. Drew, who was just 8-for-57 (.140) in his last 17 games. But Francona, who has showed a willingness to stay with struggling players before (i.e. Kevin Millar), was rewarded for his dedication to Drew early tonight.
Drew's low liner to left field that dropped right in front of the glove of Craig Monroe plated Kevin Youkilis and gave the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead against Tigers' young star Justin Verlander.
JD Drew is 8 for his last 57 (.140) and has looked poor at the plate in the last few games. But he's still batting fifth behind David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The Sox are hoping he's close to breaking out any day now.
``It's probably nothing different than the normal combination that we always talk about,'' said Francona. ``It seems like we go through cycles where every call seems to go against him. And he's not been consistent with hsi swing. That combination adds up to going through a couple tough weeks.''
Francona says Drew isn't showing any signs of his struggles.
``Never. You can't tell,'' he said. ``He's not a helmet thrower. he goes and sits in the same spot on the bench regardless of whether he gets a hit or not.''
In a good sign for both pitchers, Josh Beckett and Mike Timlin threw this afternoon at Fenway Park.
Beckett is recovering from a cut on the middle finger of his throwing hand but the Red Sox are reporting that the skin is `regenerating,' well, according to manager Terry Francona. Beckett played catch and threw lightly off the mound. ``It was very encouraging how good he felt,'' Francona said.
Beckett was scheduled to see a skin specialist today, as well.
Still no word on if Beckett will be ready to make his next start Friday against Atlanta. What looks like a safe bet is Beckett missing only one start, if any at all. The clear candidate to fill in if needed is righty Kyle Snyder.
Timlin received a positive medical exam on Monday in his bout with tendonitis. He was cleared to throw today. The plan is for him to play catch today and tomorrow and then take a day off. He'll then throw again on Thursday and Friday and be evaluated.
Here are the starting lineups for tonight's Red Sox-Tigers game....Hello Cora & Mirabelli. When is JD Drew going to fall in the order?
JD Drew, RF
Tim Wakefield, P
Justin Verlander, P
-Tim Wakefield, 14 straight scoreless innings, second in American League in E.R.A.
-Mike Lowell, six-game hitting streak, 10 for his last 23 (.435) with a double, three home runs, nine RBI, five runs and four walks
-Julio Lugo, seven-game hitting streak, 14 for his last 34 (.412) with three doubles, a triple, a home run, 10 RBI, four runs, three stolen bases and a walk
-Kevin Youkilis, eight-game hitting streak, 16 for his last 34 (.471) with five doubles, a home run, eight RBI, six runs and two walks
-Coco Crisp, 8 for his last 41 (.195)
-J.D. Drew, 8 for his last 57 (.140)
Tigers vs. Tim Wakefield
-Curtis Granderson, 2 for 4 (.500), 1 HR
-Magglio Ordonez, 13 for 30 (.433), 1 HR
-Craig Monroe, 6 for 16 (.375), 2 HR
-Ivan Rodriguez, 11 for 41 (.268), 2 HR
-Gary Sheffield, 8 for 31 (.258), 2 HR
-Carlos Guillen, 4 for 16 (.250), 1 HR
-Brandon Inge, 4 for 19 (.211), 1 HR
-Neifi Perez, 1 for 8 (.125)
Red Sox vs. Justin Verlander
-David Ortiz, 1 for 1, 1 HR
-Coco Crisp, 3 for 6 (.500)
-Julio Lugo, 1 for 2 (.500)
-Kevin Youkilis, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Alex Cora, 0 for 3
-Mike Lowell, 0 for 1
-Manny Ramirez, 0 for 3
-The Red Sox now lead the major leagues in most runs scored (205) and fewest runs allowed (126).
-Boston has won 27 consecutive games when scoring five runs oor more. The team is 21-0 in such games this season.
-The Red Sox have won 14 of their last 17 games against Detroit at Fenway.
-David Ortiz's book Big Papi, My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits, is number eight on The New York Times Best Seller list for nonfiction books.
-Josh Beckett may be hurting, but hopefully he gets a chance to celebrate too; it's his 27th birthday today.
-Julio Lugo is tied with the Mets' Jose Reyes for most RBI by a leadoff hitter (23).
Despite whispers that Manny Ramirez's early exit from the Sunday game against Baltimore might have been more about managerial discipline than a bad hamstring, Manny Ramirez was apparently an early arrival at Fenway Park on Monday: "He came in this morning, to his credit, he was here at 10 o'clock to ride the bike and get the blood flow through it. It's appreciated," Francona said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Ramirez's RBI double past third base moved him past Harry Heilmann into a tie with Willie Stargell for 38th place on the all-time list.
Ramirez's batting average dropped, however, thanks to a 1-for-5 performance.
Today on Projo SoxTalk, Steven Krasner joins Art Martone to talk about the Red Sox' nice victory last night over the Detroit Tigers. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Krasner was impressed by Daisuke Matsuzaka, he's still unimpressed by Coco Crisp, and he's not overly optimistic about a quick return from Josh Beckett. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.
On Daisuke Matsuzaka: "He looked very good. He looked like the Daisuke that the Red Sox thought they'd be getting, and maybe even sooner than they thought he might adjust to this country and to big league batting orders."
On Coco Crisp's inconsistency: "From what I see, he's a .250 hitter, you know, and he's got some speed. Once he gets on the bases he can cause some havoc, but I'm not convinced he's more than a .250 or a .270 hitter."
On Josh Beckett: "I don't think he'll make that start Friday [his next scheduled appearance] and I wouldnt be surprised if he missed at least two starts and has to go on the DL because he has to miss three. You can't make it heal faster, and even if it heals you still have to give it time beyond that, because he's not going to be able to throw a curveball, let's face it."
ALL ACES SO FAR: ''If this week is going to be the biggest test yet for the Red Sox, the team passed its first exam with flying colors last night.'' That was Paul Kenyon's lead on his story about the Sox' 7-1 win over Detroit in the first of seven straight games against one of the best teams in the American League, the Tigers, and one of the best in the National League, the Braves. Also getting all A's last night was Daisuke Matsuzaka, who pitched his first major league complete game. Steven Krasner breaks down Dice-K's performance in Inside The Game.
HE WAS OKAY, BUT . . . Tigers manager Jim Leyland was ''very impressed'' with Matsuzaka (Detroit Free Press), but Brandon Inge wasn't (Detroit News). "[Matsuzaka's] stuff isn't what everyone makes it out to be,'' he said. ''Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's bad, but it's his motion more than the movement on his pitches."
MAYBE JOHN HARRINGTON WAS RIGHT AFTER ALL: Joe Posnanski does some research based on the most recent Nielsen rankings for television, Arbitron rankings for radio, and metro populations, and concludes that the Red Sox are only in the 14th-biggest market in baseball, stuck between Washington and Atlanta. (thesoulofbaseball.blogspot.com) Makes their revenue numbers all the more staggering, don't you think?
WE'RE WITH YOU, CHIPPER: Finally, a player comes out with the complaint we've had from Day One with interleague play: Because of the disparity in strength of schedules, it can have a huge affect on the divisional races. (msn.foxsports.com) Funny though; it used to be Red Sox fans complaining about having to play six games against the Braves. Now it's Jones complaining that the Braves have to play six games against the Red Sox.
There is no need for Red Sox fans to worry about Manny Ramirez.
The Red Sox slugger, who was removed from Sunday’s game with tightness in his hamstring, is in the lineup tonight in his usual clean-up spot. More than that, he is putting in a long day’s work.
``He’s OK,’’ manager Terry Francona reported. ``He was here this morning. He was here at 10 a.m., riding the bike, getting the blood flooding and getting through it, which is appreciated.’’
Ramirez is not often seen in the Sox clubhouse, but he was today.
He came through, returning from the field, before Francona’s 4 p.m. meeting with reporters. He obviously went back out for more work because when reporters were still in the clubhouse after the session with Francona, Ramirez walked through once again.
The Red Sox say it's premature to make an definitive call on Josh Beckett's status. Beckett was in the clubhouse with a Band-Aid on the middle finger on his right (throwing) hand. He went out for batting practice but was not seen throwing the ball and harder than a light toss back to the pitcher.
The Sox apparently will wait and see how Beckett's responds to a few days of rest before determining whether he can make his next start, on Friday against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park.
``We won't know a heck of a lot more. We'll give him the next couple of days but the next event is his start. We have four days to determine that. We'll give him some time to see how he reacts to it,'' said manager Terry Francona.
The Sox will proceed slowly with Beckett, perhaps the best pitcher in the American League (7-0, 2.66 ERA) over the first six weeks of the season.
``We'll obviously use a lot of common sense but we'll also not rush into anything. We'll see how he does,'' Francona said.
In short, the Sox can't say how long Beckett may be out. Check in tomorrow or Wednesday for a more realistic time frame.
``We'll kind of let the healing process begin and see what pace it's going. The only thing you can really do is wait a couple days and see,'' said Francona.
-Hideki Okajima has pitched 17.2 consecutive scoreless innings
-Alex Cora, 20 for his last 44 (.455) with two doubles, three triples, two home runs, 11 RBI and eight runs scored
-Mike Lowell, 8 for his last 19 (.421) with a double, three home runs, nine RBI, five runs scored and four walks
-David Ortiz, 23 for his last 66 (.348) with 15 RBI, 12 runs and 19 walks
-Jason Varitek, 12 for his last 32 (.372) with two doubles, a home run, seven RBI, nine runs scored and seven walks
-Kevin Youkilis, seven-game hitting streak; 14 for his last 29 (.483) with four doubles, a home run, seven RBI, five runs scored and two walks
-Coco Crisp, 6 for his last 37 (.162)
-Eric Hinske, 2 for his last 28 (.071)
Red Sox vs. Nate Robertson
-Kevin Youkilis, 4 for 10 (400), 2 HR
-Jason Varitek, 2 for 6 (.333), 1 HR
-Julio Lugo, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Coco Crisp, 7 for 25 (.280), 2 HR
-Manny Ramirez, 1 for 9 (.222)
-David Ortiz, 1 for 14 (.071)
-Mike Lowell, 0 for 5
-This is the sixth season in Red Sox history that the team has won at least 25 of its first 36 games. The others: 2002, 1971, 1946, 1917 and 1904.
-Boston's eight-game division lead is its largest since Sept. 26, 1995.
-Yesterday was the second time in Red Sox history that the club has trailed by 5 or more runs in the ninth inning, after being shut out through the first eight, and still come back to win. The other occasion was May 30, 1931, when the Red Sox rallied to beat the Philadelphia Athletics at Fenway Park.
-Yesterday was the first time that any major league club has trailed by 5 or more runs in the ninth inning, after being shut out through the first eight, and still come back to win without first going to extra innings, since April 29, 1979, when the Chicago Cubs came back to beat the Atlanta Braves.
-Yesterday was the first time the Red Sox have come back to win a game after trailing by at least 5 runs in the ninth inning since April 10, 1998, in the home opener against Seattle. The losing pitcher: Mike Timlin.
Projo SoxTalk: Why Beckett's injury may be worse than you think
Today on Projo SoxTalk, sports editor Art Martone and baseball writer Joe McDonald discuss yesterday's amazing game at Fenway Park. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Joe spoke today to a professional athletic trainer who had an alarming assessment about the type of injury that Josh Beckett apparently has. Of course, the Red Sox are not yet saying how long Beckett will be sidelined, or even if he will miss his next scheduled start on Friday against Atlanta. Here's what Joe had to say on Beckett today:
"Beckett was quite disappointed. ... He admitted that he's had this problem before, when he was with Florida. It's not necessarily a blister; the skin on the finger just tears. Both Beckett and Terry Francona said yesterday that in the big picture, that's a good thing, because a blister could be worse. But I actually spoke with a professional athletic trainer today, and asked him if he's ever seen something like that. And he said that he has, and a lot of times football players get it. ... and he admitted that it actually takes longer for something that beckett has now to heal than a blister would. And I asked him if he thought a pitcher would be able to make his next start in five days with something like this, and he said no, there's no way that he's going to be able to start his next game. In football players sometimes it can be up to a month where something has actually healed where that skin was torn off."
HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) - Despite a weak start, the New York Yankees still rule among fans in Connecticut.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found that Connecticut fans prefer the Yankees to the Boston Red Sox 43-37 percent. Another 10 percent say they are New York Mets fans.
"The Red Sox may be first in the division but they are second in the hearts of Connecticut fans. These Yankees supporters show they are not fair-weather friends as they stick with the Bombers through tough times," said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. (PROJO.COM EDITOR'S NOTE: Tough times? A slightly below-.500 record through mid-May?)
The Red Sox are 25-11 heading into Monday's games, with an eight-game lead over the 17-19 Yankees.
The university's poll results are similar to last year, when a Quinnipiac poll found that 42 percent of those surveyed were Yankees fans, 35 percent Red Sox fans and 12 percent support the Mets.
In a breakdown by county, the Yankees are still the big favorite in Fairfield County while the Red Sox rule in Hartford, Tolland, Windham and New London counties.
The survey of 1,653 adults was conducted May 2-7. It has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
Lost in the euphoria over yesterday's improbable win over Baltimore, and the concern about Josh Beckett's finger injury, was the fact that it was not a very good day for Manny Ramirez.
Ramirez was booed after failing to make a play on Kevin Millar's pop up in the eighth inning; he misplayed a base hit by Jay Payton in the sixth and he did not run hard on a fourth-inning double play. Ramirez came out of the game due to hamstring tightness and was not a part of Boston's winning rally. We'll s
What They're Saying:Jerome Preisler, YesNetwork Web columnist, author and semiprofessional Red Sox hater, tells The New York Times why Manny is bad for baseball. My comment: Blaming Yankee hatred on a "Calivinistic New England outlook" in the year 2007 is pretty disingenuous. I'd say that most people in this most liberal, not to mention most Catholic region of the country don't take many cues from that icon of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin. But they'll probably still be saying that about New England 200 years from now.
But right now, as they say in the business, it's all good.
DON'T THINK IT'S GONE UNNOTICED: Johnny Damon was doing some scoreboard-watching in Seattle, and says he ''couldn't really believe'' the Sox' comeback . . . which hurt even more when the Yanks lost to the Mariners. (New York Daily News) And Damon, always the most honest of souls, issued his own warning: "If the Red Sox keep playing the way they are, nobody is going to catch them."
A REALLY DIFFERENT TAKE: Yesterday's proceedings have an entirely different look from the other side (Baltimore Sun). "That's a game we should've won, period," said Kevin Millar. "There's no rhyme or reason why we should've lost that game." Sun blogger Roch Kubatko agrees, calling the loss ''inexcusable.'' No argument here.
NOT THIS TIME, THOUGH: Schilling says nothing controversial -- even about plate umpire Chris Guccione, whose call on that 2-and-2 pitch in the sixth inning changed the afternoon for Schilling and the Sox -- as he breaks down Saturday's no-decision against the Orioles on 38pitches.com.
TIME WOUNDS ALL HEELS: Those of you old enough to remember Clemens' Red Sox battles with the A's Dave Stewart will recall that Stewart had very little use for the Rocket back then. Guess what? He still doesn't. (blog.nbx.com) And, just in case you didn't quite get the message, he'll tell you again.
Clemens vs. Stewart: A beautiful, beautiful thing. Who do you root for in that one?
Red Sox starter Josh Beckett left the game after four innings due to a irritation of the skin on the middle finger of his right hand. It's being described as "not a blister" by Sox PR guy John Blake. The right-hander completed four innings, allowing two runs on two hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Mike Lowell, usually one of the pleasant personalities in the Sox clubhouse, is a bit grumpy today. The reason? Because he is not in the starting lineup.
It is part of manager Terry Francona’s practice to keep everyone fresh. Not only is Lowell off, but Dustin Pedroia, as well.
``We’ve got every lefty we have in there today,’’ Francona said. The statistics, he noted, show that Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie has more trouble with lefties than righties. Lefties are hitting over .400 against him.
Getting Cora in for Pedroia is easy compared with telling Lowell he was going to have the day off. Lowell does not like time off. And right now he is on a great run. Francona was asked if Lowell rolls his eyes when he is told he wil not play.
``That would be an understament,’’ he responded. ``But that’s pretty close.’’
Lowell acknowledged that he understood Francona’s reasoning. But that did not mean he had to be happy about it.
``I don’t mind it once in a while,’’ the third baseman said. ``I just know that we have inter-league games coming up in National League parks where I’ll have some time off. I know we have to do that to get David (Ortiz) in the lineups.’’ For those games, Kevin Youkilis will shift to third.
``I treat it as a day off,’’ Lowell said. ``I’m not taking any hitting on the field. In the fifth inning or so I’ll go to the cage and starting getting some swings in. If they need me, I’ll be ready.’’
Francona understands why Lowell wants to play.
``Mentally he’s great. He feels good about himself. I understand that,’’ he said. Still, the big picture is more important.
``We have a good team. (Eric) Hinske (who will play in Lowell’s place) will be just fine. It will be good for him. If they want to bring in a lefthander later, Lowell’s sitting there.
``I think it pays dividends not getting greedy,’’ Francona went on. ``It’s not always the easiest thing to do. Here you’ve got a guy who doesn’t want to sit. He’s swinging the bat really well. But I think you have to use good judgment.’’
Francona told Lowell a day ahead of time, as he tries to do in all such instances, about the day off.
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester threw a 40-pitch bullpen session this morning at Fenway, and according to manager Terry Francona, it went well. The left-hander mostly worked on his off-speed stuff. He's scheduled to throw another bullpen on Wednesday.
Lester's left forearm tightened up on him during his second rehab start for the PawSox last week.
Pink is the color of the day today at Fenway as the Red Sox participate in national Mother’s Day activities.
All over the clubhouse, Sox players were taking out and sampling deliveries of pink bats, all made as part of a Major League baseball program to help raise Breast Cancer awareness on Mother’s Day. Next month, on Father’s Day, a similar program will be held to help with the battle against prostate cancer.
For today, all players have been given shipments of pink bats that includes a breast cancer logo on the barrel. Some players also are wearing pink wristbands. Alex Cora was just out in the cage using one of the pink bats for batting practice. There is a note on the bulletin board in the clubhouse for players to hand in some of the pink bats so they can be sold at raffles to raise money for breast cancer research.
Also, workers in souvenir stands are setting up displays for sale of tiny pink bats.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona has no problem pinch-hitting for Dustin Pedroia late in the game. The skipper has done it often this season and even though it must bother the rookie second baseman, Francona said Pedroia understands the situation.
"He's actually been swinging the bat pretty well," said Francona. "We have a guy (Alex Cora) right now who is hitting .430. In certain situations, like yesterday, (Baltimore pitcher Todd) Williams is much tougher on right-handers so it made sense.
"Pedroia has done a good job, especially lately," added the manager. "What he is now, is a part of our team. He's not trying to prove anything to me or anybody else. He's part of our team and he understands it."
Francona was quick to mention the total package the Sox have at second base.
"You put their numbers together we're probably near the top of the league," he said. "So, we're going to use both of them. The good side, Pedroia understands that. I don't think he likes getting pinch-hit for; I don't anybody that does. The competitor's part in you says 'I can succeed.' And, I'm glad he feels that way."
Earlier today, Pedroia was sitting at his locker stall and looked like a zombie. When asked what was up, he admitted he's feeling a little under the weather.
PAWTUCKET — A pitcher coming back from the big leagues squared off against another moving up from Double-A last night at McCoy and the match turned out to be a good one.
The bad news for the home team was that the youngster on the way up, Dallas Trahern, was the victor as he pitched Toledo to a 3-2 decision over Pawtucket.
It was the type of game Pawtucket has played far too often already, one which could have gone either way. The teams combined for a total of only 12 hits, six for each. Pawtucket had the tying run on third base with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
But, in keeping with the script as it has played out so far, the Pawsox, now 11-22, were the team coming up short once again before a crowd of 7,526.
``I thought it was a really good game,’’ said Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson. ``The guys we used tonight, (Devern) Hansack, (Craig) Hansen, (Bryan) Corey and (Mike) Burns all threw the ball very well.’’
Hansack, making his return after spending eight days with Boston (in which time he pitched only two-thirds of an inning) took the loss because of one bad inning. He was sharp early, allowing only one base runner in the first three innings.
With one out in the fourth, he walked Timo Perez. Ryan Raburn, who leads the International League in RBI, followed with a blast to the back of the berm in left for a two-run homer. It was his eighth of the season.
``Raburn’s been a good hitter for a few years now. He’s got some pop. I’ve seen him since he was in Double-A,’’ Johnson said. ``He can turn on the ball.’’
``That might have been the only pitch Hanny got up all night. . . He just left it up a little bit. He’s a four-hole hitter and he did what a hitter like that is supposed to do,’’ Johnson said.
``But I don’t think that takes anything away from his performance,’’ Johnson said of Hansack. ``That’s a quality start.’’
The home run for Raburn was made a bit sweeter because he had been robbed of a two-run homer on a great leaping catch at the fence in center in Friday night’s game by Jacoby Ellsbury.
It was the final run of the fourth that turned out to be the killer. Jack Hanrahan blooped a double to left and came around on a single by Mike Hessman and a ground ball Henry Mateo.
Trahern was outstanding in getting the victory in his International League debut. The 21-year-old right-hander was 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA for Erie, in Double-A.
David Murphy continued his strong play for Pawtucket, scoring each of his team’s runs. He walked leading off the fourth, moved up on two ground ball outs and scored on a triple by Bobby Scales.
That cut the Toledo lead to 3-1. He sliced it to 3-2 in the sixth when he singled with one out and then raced home on Jeff Bailey’s double.
Pawtucket had a chance to tie it in the ninth. Ed Rogers led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Kevin Cash. Alex Ochoa was sent up to pinch-hit for Alex Prieto. On a 1-2 pitch, reliever Jason Karnuth fired the ball wide and to the backstop, allowing Rogers to get to third. However, Ochoa took a called third strike. Ellsbury then grounded to short to end it.
Even with his team in last place, Johnson remains optimistic.
``It will get better. We’ve played a lot of games like this,’’ he said. ``I’m real proud of this team. They hustle. They fight. We’ll get there. We’ll get a few guys who will be able to put things together. It will happen.
``If you don’t have pitching it really gets frustrating. You always wonder how you’re going to finish things up,’’ Johnson said. ``We’ve got pitching here.’’
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester played long toss at 120 feet this afternoon before simulating mound work on flat ground and worked on his off-speed pitches. He’s scheduled to just play catch tomorrow and will throw a side session on Sunday.
When asked how Lester looked, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said "very good."
The southpaw pitcher suffered a forearm cramp during his second rehab outing for the PawSox last week.
The first day back from a road trip is usually a quiet one. So far it feels more like Sunday mass than a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, and that can mean only one thing. Something strange must be brewing so stay close and we'll keep you updated.
Anyway, here are a couple of notes from the clubhouse.
*J.D. Drew has been given tonight off and Wily Mo Pena will play right field.
*Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin, who has been on the DL since May3 with tendinitis in his right shoulder, will be examined by the team’s medical staff tonight.
*Pitcher Devern Hansack was optioned back to Pawtucket today and Javier Lopez has been recalled.
Today on Projo SoxTalk, Sean McAdam joins Art Martone to talk about the Red Sox' blazing-hot start, and to talk about what challenges might lie ahead. Click here to listen to the full audio file. One thing that could change is the Red Sox' luck. Here's what Sean has to say on the subject of injuries:
"The one thing I would caution people, is to remind them that this team has basically been untouched by injuries so far. They have not had Mike Timlin, but given the emergence of Hideki Okajima as their primary setup guy, they haven't needed Timlin as badly. There've been nagging injuries to Coco Crisp and players here and there, but 33 games in, they've been remarkably healthy, in direct contrast to both the Blue Jays and Yankees -- their prime competitors."
But on the other hand, when it comes to the batting order...
"Lowell and Ortiz are really the only two guys who have put it together yet, which makes you think that in addition to the good pitching they've gotten, if they start getting the lineup firing on all cylinders, then maybe they win some of those low-scoring games they've lost, like that 2-1 game against (the Twins' Johan) Santana on Saturday."
ANOTHER LUCKY SEVEN: Two days ago it was Josh Beckett improving his record to 7-0. Today it's the Red Sox increasing their lead in the A.L. East to seven games after their third straight rout of the hapless Blue Jays (projo.com), which completed their first three-game sweep in Toronto in nearly five years. The Globe's Nick Cafardo asks ''how far-fetched is it to say the Red Sox are well on their way to winning this in a landslide?'' Maybe a little; after all, it is only May 11. But there's no denying what Mike Lowell told Sean McAdam: '' “We’re just playing good baseball right now.'' As is Lowell; after his monster series at the Rogers Centre, he's now hitting .303 with a .360 on-base percentage, a .549 slugging percentage, 7 home runs and 28 RBI. (His numbers against the Jays this year are staggering: .407/.448/1.000 with 5 homers and 9 RBI.) Tim Wakefield's numbers against everyone are staggering. After his seven shutout innings last night, he has a league-leading 1.79 ERA.
''Quite a few people have tossed Biblical references my way in the past week or so after the Thorne incident in Baltimore talking about turning the other cheek and being above the fray. I’ve often thought I do and try to be that way, but it’s very clear in the last two weeks I’ve done the exact opposite. That’s not to say I won’t respond when I feel someone’s calling me out and is wrong, but doing so in every instance will serve no one and only make me say and act like the very people I have issues with.''
DON'T LISTEN TO HER: Jonathan Papelbon thinks Schilling's criticism of Barry Bonds ''wasn't too professional.'' (Hartford Courant)
IT WORKS FOR JERRY SPRINGER: In the same story, the Courant reports that Coco Crisp -- appearing on Providence's WSKO Radio -- said he'd like to see baseball take a page from tabloid television and adminster lie-detector tests to determine who took steroids. "You ever see Maury Povich, when they're talking about baby daddies and all that kind of stuff?" Crisp said. "They get the lie detector test and they're like, `Are you the father?' That's what they need to do. We need to actually see if they are the father."
I don't know what Terry Francona gets paid, but, man, it isn't enough.
WHAT WOULD THE DAY BE WITHOUT SOME GOOD ROGER CLEMENS TALK? The Yankees' granting Clemens the freedom to come and go as he chooses is a hot-button item in New York -- most everyone is against it -- and ex-pitcher (and current YES analyst) Al Leiter defends it -- sort of -- in a Q-and-A with the New York Post.
THE NEXT BATTLEGROUND: Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal looks at the strange case of the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano, who could be headed for the free-agent market at the end of the year . . . and who may find himself in a Clemens-like bidding war between the Red Sox and Yankees.
Toronto, losers of eight straight, got more bad news today. Closer B.J. Ryan, who was shutdown last month because of a strained elbow ligament, is going to require Tommy John surgery and is lost for the season.
In the Red Sox clubhouse, the picture is far much rosier. Kevin Youkilis is back in the lineup after sitting out Wednesday.
Jon Lester, who was supposed to take today off, felt good enough to throw at 120 feet.
Alex Rios rf
Adam Lind lf
Vernon Wells cf
Troy Glaus 3b
Frank Thomas dh
Lyle Overbay 1b
Aaron Hill 2b
Sal Fasano c
Royce Clayton ss
There is a lot of good news in the numbers these days. Here they are, from the team's official game notes:
-Tim Wakefield, nine earned runs in six starts; ranks second in American League with 2.11 E.R.A.
-Doug Mirabelli, 7 for his last 17 (.412) with a double, two home runs and four RBI
-David Ortiz, 19 for his last 53 (.358)
-Dustin Pedroia, 10 for his last 17 (.588) with three doubles, a home run, five RBI, five runs and two walks
-Manny Ramirez, eight-game hitting streak; 13 for his last 35 (.371) with two doubles, four home runs, eight RBI, four runs and two walks
-Coco Crisp, 3 for 17 (.176) on current road trip
-J.D. Drew, 4 for his last 41 (.098)
-Eric Hinske, 2 for his last 24 (.083)
-Julio Lugo, 4 for his last 25 (.160)
Red Sox vs. Roy Halladay
-Mike Lowell, 4 for 11 (.364), 2 HR
-Coco Crisp, 6 for 18 (.333), 1 HR
-David Ortiz, 18 for 63 (.286), 5 HR
-Wily Mo Pena, 2 for 7 (.286)
-Manny Ramirez, 17 for 66 (.258), 3 HR
-Kevin Youkilis, 5 for 20 (.250)
-Julio Lugo, 8 for 34 (.235), 1 HR
-Doug Mirabelli, 2 for 10 (.200), 1 HR
-Eric Hinske, 2 for 9 (.222)
-J.D. Drew, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Alex Cora, 2 for 13 (.154), 1 HR
-Dustin Pedroia, 0 for 9
Blue Jays vs. Tim Wakefield
-Royce Clayton, 12 for 39 (.308), 1 HR
-John McDonald, 5 for 17 (.294)
-Troy Glaus, 6 for 23 (.261), 1 HR
-Matt Stairs, 10 for 39 (.256), 1 HR
-Jason Phillips, 2 for 8 (.250)
-Vernon Wells, 9 for 37 (.243)
-Alex Rios, 5 for 21 (.238), 1 HR
-Sal Fasano, 3 for 13 (.231)
-Frank Thomas, 9 for 40 (.225), 4 HR
-Lyle Overbay, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Aaron Hill, 2 for 11 (.182)
-Jason Smith, 0 for 6
-Manny Ramirez last night drove in his 131st run against the Blue Jays, tying him with Harold Baines for the most by any player.
-The Red Sox have won 10 of their last 12 games away from Fenway Park.
-Boston scored 9 runs in each of the last two games; it's the first time they've had at least 9 in consecutive road games since June 2005 in Cleveland.
-The Red Sox have hit four home runs in consecutive games for the first time since July 2003 against Tampa Bay and the Yankees.
-The Red Sox are the only team in baseball with three four-game winners: Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
-This is Boston's best record after 32 games since 2002 -- but that team failed to make the playoffs.
-Boston has not swept a three-game series in Toronto since July 2003, and they have not swept three from the Blue Jays anywhere since August 2004.
-David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez both hit home runs last night, the 44th time they have done so. Only Dwight Evans and Jim Rice have combined for home runs more frequently (56) as Red Sox teammates.
Pedro Martinez is also still trying to move his house in Brookline, Mass. The Wall Street Journal tells you -- if you pay for a subscription -- why tricked-out homes built by professional athletes are going begging for buyers.
If you've read the lengthy New Yorker profile of Manny, you know that he's also had problems recently selling a tricked-out car for the price that he would like. And then there's that grill.
Today, Sean looks into the adjustments that Daisuke Matsuzaka made to improve his luck, and at some of the ways the slumping J.D. Drew is trying to get better results.
He also spoke about Dustin Pedroia and the uproar over Curt Schilling's and David Ortiz's Barry Bonds/steroid comments. Here are two excerpts.
On the streaking Pedroia: "I think a lot of it is just confidence with him. I don't think there's much question looking back to April that he was pressing a little bit, perhaps trying to prove that he belonged and was worthy of having a spot in the lineup for a team that expected to contend for the pennant. There's been a lot said and written about his swing, which looks overly long for someone his size, but it's always worked for him. A couple of nights ago Pedroia said that he's also doing a little bit better job in the batter's box, maybe waiting on the pitch that extra fraction of a second and not being too jumpy -- sort of out in front of the pitch, he was pulling a lot of pitches foul. He seems to be making more solid contact and I think just getting a little bit more comfortable in the lineup with the more success he has."
Why the off-field fiasco probably won't be a distraction: I think Terry Francona has probably had his fill of it the last few days, because a lot of the questions get directed at him, and he's probably feeling some heat from above in the front office and ownership to try and keep a tighter rein on these guys. I think we've seen back to the days of the 2004 championship team that this is a pretty loose place. I think players have made their peace with the various personalities. Teammates know that Schilling is opinioniated, is going to say things that get attention. I think that the core of this team has been togehter long enough to just shrug that off for the most part -- ignore the off-field stuff and focus on baseball."
BACK ON TRACK: Now thatwas Daisuke Matsuzaka as advertised (projo.com), even if it did come against a team that, according to its manager, has fallen ''about as low as we can go.'' (Toronto Sun) Lyle Overbay thinks that ''[a] couple of months down the road, no one is going to remember it,'' but au contraire, Lyle; this eight-game -- and counting -- losing streak is all anyone is going to talk about all season long. If the Jays never recover from it, it will be pointed to as the time the season went down the tubes (much like an early 10-game skid is still talked about as the downfall of the 1976 Red Sox, who never put up much of a fight in defending their American League championship). If they do start playing well, it will be referred to, again and again, as the albatross around their necks, as in, "Imagine where they'd be if they hadn't . . . '' The Toronto Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair says ''[next] year isn't here yet. But it's visible.''
SENSE OF HUMOR: Give Vernon Wells credit: He knows how to respond to hecklers. (Toronto Sun) So why do I think every leatherlung in the American League will now be zeroing in on Wells in the hopes of getting their own ball?
"Dear Mr. Dork" . . . I have to admit, I like that one.
''I'M PREPARED TO TRACK HIM DOWN WHEN HE'S REINCARNATED TO BOO HIS SORRY . . . '' I don't think Chad Finn likes Roger Clemens very much. (touchingallthebases.com)
NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE: Joe Posnanski has a family and a regular job and everything. So how does he get the time to research and write such fabulous blog items? (thesoulofbaseball.blogspot.com) Really, this is magazine-length worthy . . . and Red Sox fans will like it because, at the end, he makes the case that David Ortiz was far more valuable in 2006 than American League MVP Justin Morneau.
Kevin Youkilis, who has been hit in each of the last two games -- both times in the same general vicinity -- is out of tonight's lineup. Manager Terry Francona originally had Youkilis in the lineup, but when Youkilis arrived at Rogers Centre and conferred with his manager, the switch was made. Eric Hinske will start at first base.
Jon Lester played catch at a distance of 90 feet for about 12 minutes earlier today. He'll take tomorrow off, then long toss Friday when the team returns home.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, tonight's starter, isn't one to rest in the trainer's room before a start. Matsuzaka was spotted running in the outfield, four hours before gametime.
Alex Rios rf
Adam Lind lf
Vernon Wells cf
Frank Thomas dh
Troy Glaus 3b
Lyle Overbay 1b
Aaron Hill 2b
Sal Fasano c
John McDonald ss
If you have tickets to the Sunday, June 3 game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, take note. The game has been selected as ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball pick, which means it will start at 8:05.
-Dustin Pedroia, 8 for his last 13 (.615) with three doubles, a home run, five RBI, three runs and two walks
-Manny Ramirez, seven-game hitting streak, 12 for his last 30 (.400) with two doubles, three home runs, six RBI, three runs and two walks
-Jason Varitek, 9 for his last 17 (.529) with a home run, three RBI, five runs and four walks
-Coco Crisp, 2 for 13 (.154) on this road trip
-J.D. Drew, 4 for his last 40 (.100)
-Eric Hinske, 2 for his last 20 (.100)
-Mike Lowell, 1 for 16 (.063) on this road trip
-Julio Lugo, 3 for his last 20 (.150)
-David Ortiz, 0 for his last 10
Red Sox vs. Tomo Ohka
-Mike Lowell, 13 for 39 (.333), 3 HR
-Dustin Pedroia, 1 for 3 (.333)
-David Ortiz, 2 for 9 (.222), 1 HR
-J.D. Drew, 3 for 14 (.214)
-Wily Mo Pena, 3 for 14 (.214), 2 HR
-Manny Ramirez, 2 for 10 (.200)
-Eric Hinske, 2 for 12 (.167)
-Julio Lugo, 2 for 14 (.143)
-Alex Cora, 1 for 9 (.111)
-Coco Crisp, 0 for 2
Blue Jays vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
-Jason Smith, 1 for 2 (.500)
-Lyle Overbay, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Vernon Wells, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Royce Clayton, 0 for 2
-Aaron Hill, 0 for 2
-Adam Lind, 0 for 3
-Alex Rios, 0 for 3
-Frank Thomas, 0 for 2
-The Red Sox have won nine of their last 11 road games
-Boston has won five of its six road series so far
-Terry Francona last night became the 10th Red Sox manager to win 300 games with the team
-Boston's E.R.A. on this road trip: 1.80 through four games
-Tonight's game is the first matchup of two Japanese starting pitchers since 2002 (Tomo Ohka of Montreal vs. Mac Suzuki of Kansas City) and only the fourth such matchup in major league baseball history. The first three all involved Suzuki.
-- "Regardless of my opinions, thoughts and beliefs on anything Barry Bonds it was absolutely irresponsible and wrong to say what I did. "
-- "I’d love to tell you I was ambushed, misquoted, misinterpreted, something other than what it was, but I wasn’t."
-- ''As someone who’s made it very clear I have major issues with members of the media that take little or no pride in their work it’s the height of hypocrisy for me to say what I did, in any forum. I started this blog to give people a look into the life we live on and off the field, not to get into back and forths with people I don’t like or have issues with. Doing that will only make this a rant filled no content bunch of words.''
-- "It was a callous, wreckless and irresponsible thing to say, and for that I apologize to Barry, Barry’s family, Barry’s friends and the Giants organization, my teammates and the Red Sox organization as well as anyone else that may have been offended by the comments I made.''
Terry Francona, appearing as a guest on WEEI's Dale and Holley show (with Greg Dickerson filling in for Dale Arnold) today expressed his annoyance with the way Curt Schilling blasted Barry Bonds yesterday on the same radio station.
"For a guy who doesn't talk much to the media, he sure does talk to the media," Francona said. Schilling yesterday said fans should not embrace Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record because, he said, Bonds had cheated on steroids, on his wife and on his taxes.
Here's more of what Francona said when asked about Schilling's comments by Michael Holley:
"I talked to Schill yesterday about it. He's never been short on opinions, and so many of them are insightful. I just thought that this was an area where you're better off just leaving it alone, and he didn't. And the problem is, it makes it tough for me, because then he comes to the ballpark and doesn't talk to the media, so I'm left to kind of clean up the mess, which I really don't feel like. But again, I've been with Schill a long time (in Boston and in Philadelphia), nobody's more crazy about Schill than me. I just kind of asked him to zip it a little bit, which I think he will."
The Pawtucket Red Sox took the lead with a three-run ninth, only to give it up in the bottom of the inning and then lose the game, 5-4, to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in the 10th. It was the sixth straight loss for Pawtucket, and their 10th defeat in 11 games.
Jeff Bailey hit a two-out, bases-loaded double just after fouling a line drive off the side of third-base coach/manager Ron Johnson (Johnson seemed to be in pain, but stayed in the game) to put the PawSox ahead in the ninth. Pawtucket entered the inning down 3-1, but a single, an error and two walks closed the deficit to 3-2 and set the stage for Bailey's hit.
But reliever Mike Burns couldn't close the deal. He walked leadoff hitter Omir Santos, who then stole second and scored on a two-out RBI single by Chris Basak. In the 10th, Burns again walked the leadoff man, this time Shelley Duncan, then gave up a single to Bronson Sardinha. After an out and an intentional walk, Santos drove in Duncan with the game-winning run on an infield ground ball; Pawtucket was unable to turn the double play to end the inning.
PawSox starter Kason Gabbard pitched four and a third innings, giving up three runs on six hits, three walks and three strikeouts. He gave up a two-run home run to third baseman Chris Basak in the third inning, after Pawtucket had jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on Bailey's RBI double.
The PawSox are now 0-6 on the season against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the New York Yankees' new Triple-A affiliate. The teams play again tomorrow night in Pennsylvania.
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk, in which Sean McAdam joins Art Martone to talk about the local nine. The Blue Jays are stumbling badly, and there may be some bad blood brewing in this series. Kevin Youkilis left last night's game after being beaned (he nailed a home run earlier in the game), and there was quite a lot of speculation about whether it was an intentional hit-by-pitch. Here's what Sean has to say on the subject:
"I know that Youkilis is getting tired of being hit, and it was particularly painful for him last night because the spot he got hit in -- sort of the mid-thigh of his left leg -- was just a little bit lower from where he had gotten a contusion Sunday against Minnesota. He already has been hit five times in 31 games, and it's getting a little old for him, to say nothing of how painful its been.
"He wasnt sure why he was singled out, although obviously he hit the home run earlier in the game and had a pretty productive night at the plate. It may just have been his spot in the lineup when (Toronto) decided to wake themselves up, but both benches were warned, there was nothing that transpired after that. But he just feels like he has a target on his back, for whatever reason, and wishes it would end."
Stay tuned. McAdam also discusses reports that Toronto starter Tomo Ohka -- a former Red Sox import from Japan -- has a chip on his shoulder about all the attention that his opponent in tonight's game, Daisuke Matsuzaka, has gotten. Martone and McAdam also discuss Josh Beckett and the further evidence that a trade between the Mets and the Devil Rays a couple years ago may be one of the most lopsided of all time.
Schilling's remarks on Bonds draw national attention
Curt Schilling's comments about Barry Bonds yesterday morning on WEEI's morning show have, perhaps predictably, caused a national stir. Schilling has been criticized on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter for saying that Bonds had admitted to cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes and cheating on baseball. Click here, by the way, for a reminder of what Bonds told the grand jury investigating the BALCO steroid distribution case, back in 2003, when he said that he used a clear substance and a cream without realizing what they were. His longtime extramarital relationship with Kimberly Bell seems to be undisputed, and Bell has also been prominent in suggestions that Bonds may have cheated on taxes.
On a night when Bonds hit his 745th home run, off Tom Glavine of the Mets, to get within 10 of Hank Aaron's all-time record, the spin on the national media was largely that Schilling was incorrect in suggesting that Bonds had admitted to knowingly committing any of the above offenses. This morning, on the same radio program where he made his remarks yesterday, some callers agreed with Schilling while others questioned why he did not make stronger comments while appearing in 2005 before a congressional committee interested in steroid use by ballplayers (he mainly ripped Jose Canseco, who wrote a book alleging widespread steroid abuse in baseball). Others, again perhaps predictably, alleged that the focus on Bonds is all about racism.
MARCHING FORWARD: George Mitchell's investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has reached the stage where the players union has now agreed to let the players decide whether or not to provide medical records to investigators. The story continues: ''According to sources, Mitchell is now seeking information on a number of current and former Orioles who played during or around the time Jason Grimsley was with Baltimore in 2004 and 2005: Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for the steroid stanozolol in 2005; David Segui, who last year admitted using HGH; Jerry Hairston Jr., who was named as a player who bought performance-enhancing drugs over the Internet earlier this year, and Fernando Tatis.'' (New York Daily News) Sammy Sosa, incidentally, also played for the '05 Orioles.
SPARE ME: According to Devil Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, 17-year old Tropicana Field "has a shelf life of five [more] years." (Tampa Tribune) Either they're building domed stadiums out of straw down in central Florida, or . . . wait a minute . . . could it be . . . is it possible Sternberg is trying to strongarm the local politicos into building him a new place? Gee? Ya think??
These sort of tactics work best when you have some leverage, Stu. Since the United States has just about run out of cities -- save Las Vegas, which has issues of its own -- that want major league baseball teams, and since the Devil Rays a) aren't really a hot item and b) not a whole lot of people in and around Tampa would care one way or the other if they left, it won't be easy building the sort of civic panic that responds to this kind of shameless strongarming. Best of luck, Mr. Sternberg. You've got your work cut out for you.
A relatively slow news day, following Monday's off-day.
Manager Terry Francona and performance enhancement coach Don Kalkstein traveled to the top of the CN Tower -- sort of the Canadian equivalent of the Empire State Building for tourists -- and Francona, no fan of heights, wasn't exactly enamored with the experience.
In his pre-game meeting with reporters, Francona spoke at length about Daisuke Matsuzaka's between-starts work and the effort being made to improve his performance with runners on base. Some mechanical flaws have been detected that the Sox hope can cut down on some of the big innings.
Alex Rios rf
Adam Lind lf
Vernon Wells cf
Frank Thomas dh
Troy Glaus 3b
Lyle Overbay 1b
Aaron Hill 2b
Jason Phillips c
Royce Clayton ss
-Josh Beckett, six starts, six wins.
-Alex Cora, 15 for his last 33 (.455) with a double, three triples, two home runs, nine RBI and seven runs
-Coco Crisp, 15 for his last 45 (.333) with a double, two triples, five RBI, 12 runs, four stolen bases
-Dustin Pedroia, 6 for his last 9 with three doubles, two walks, two RBI and two runs
-Manny Ramirez, 11 for his last 25 (.440) with two doubles, three home runs, six RBI, two runs and two walks
-Kevin Youkilis, 16 for his last 47 (.340) with a double, a home run, five RBI, 10 runs and nine walks
-J.D. Drew, 4 for his last 36 (.111)
-Mike Lowell, 0 for his last 11
-Julio Lugo, 0 for his last 10 and 1 for his last 15
Red Sox vs. Victor Zambrano
-David Ortiz, 5 for 12 (.417), 2 HR
-Kevin Youkilis, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Eric Hinske, 6 for 23 (.261)
-Jason Varitek, 3 for 15 (.200), 1 HR
-Manny Ramirez, 4 for 26 (.154), 1 HR
-Mike Lowell, 1 for 12 (.083)
-Dustin Pedroia, 0 for 1
-Julio Lugo, 0 for 1
-Coco Crisp, 0 for 2
Blue Jays vs. Josh Beckett
-Vernon Wells, 7 for 15 (.467), 4 HR
-Alex Rios, 2 for 5 (.400)
-Aaron Hill, 4 for 11 (.364)
-Jason Phillips, 3 for 9 (.333)
-Royce Clayton, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Lyle Overbay, 3 for 14 (.214)
-Troy Glaus, 2 for 10 (.200), 2 HR
-Frank Thomas, 2 for 11 (.182)
-Matt Stairs, 1 for 6 (.167)
-Boston's six-game lead in the American League East is the largest of any division leader. It is also the franchise's largest-ever first-place lead after 30 games.
-The Red Sox' 13 for 14 in save opportunities this year makes for the best percentage (.929) in the majors.
-Boston has allowed four or fewer runs in 12 straight road games.
-The Blue Jays have won eight of their last 11 meetings with the Red Sox.
-Mike Lowell is 6 for 14 (.429) with two home runs this season against Toronto. He's a lifetime .375 hitter against the Jays, the highest batting average against Toronto of any active player with at least 100 at bats.
Projo SoxTalk: Sean McAdam on Beckett, the Blue Jays and the Yankees
Live from Toronto, Sean McAdam is the guest on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments. Editor's Note: Tonight will be Josh Beckett's first appearance of 2007 against the Blue Jays.
On Beckett: "He has been much more consistent, and I think we're seeing a guy who's in the middle of sort of determining for himself the difference between being purely a thrower and a guy who is really learning how to pitch in his second year in the American League. And you can see some changes in his approach: not so reliant on his fastball, doesn't throw it up in the zone to challenge hitters when things get tough, mixes in his secondary pitches far better, relies more on Jason Varitek and trusts him more to call the game. So I think all those things are positive signs."
On the last-place Toronto Blue Jays: "I think they are looking at this homestand that starts tonight with three against the Red Sox as a pretty key series, or a pretty important stretch for them, even though it is only the second week in May. They have some ground to make up in the American League East already. They're seven and a half games in back of the Red Sox and should they get swept, they could be double figures behind the front-runner by the end of the week, and you certainly don't want to be in that situation on May 12."
On the Yankee bullpen, the day after Mariano Rivera's latest blown save: There aren't a lot of other reliable arms in there. In fact, Scott Proctor looks to be one of the few guys that Joe Torre can trust, and for the second year in a row he runs the risk of really running Proctor into the ground in the first couple of months in the season, because he doesn't have anyone else he can trust. So that may be one of the rude awakenings that Clemens discovers when he comes back late this month: that it is not Mike Stanton and (Jeff) Nelson and some of the guys that they had working as ace setup guys to get to a younger Mariano Rivera. Now it is an untested bullpen -- sort of patched together -- and an aging Mariano Rivera who is having difficulties.
“I tell you, I don’t know too much about steroids, but I started listening about steroids when they started to bring that ... up, and I started realizing and getting to know a little bit about it,” Ortiz said, according to the Herald's Michael Silverman. “You’ve got to be careful. ... I used to buy a protein shake in my country. I don’t do that anymore because they don’t have the approval for that here, so I know that, so I’m off of buying things at the GNC back in the Dominican (Republic). But it can happen anytime, it can happen. I don’t know. I don’t know if I drank something in my youth, not knowing it.”
Curt Schilling, a guest this morning on the Dennis and Callahan radio show (with Dale Arnold sitting in Gerry Callahan's chair), said that fans should not embrace Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's major league home run record. Click here to listen to the full audio from WEEI.
Schilling said Bonds had admitted cheating on his wife, his taxes and steroids. He said race had nothing to do with his opinions, saying he did not care if Bonds was black or green or purple or yellow -- a nod perhaps to a recent poll that showed vastly different opinions among blacks and whites toward Bonds.
Schilling was much kinder to Roger Clemens, whom he called the greatest pitcher of all time. He said that while the Red Sox' pitching staff would continue to do well without the 44-year-old right-hander, Clemens has always succeeded in the past and that fans predicting his failure in New York were off-base. He said he could see more and more aging pitchers coming back for partial seasons, as Clemens has done. When asked if he would be interested in doing so, Schilling said he has not thought much about it, but indicated that it would be a possibility.
There's got to be a morning after for those of us on Rocket overload . . .
COCO FOR THE DEFENSE: Talk about bad timing. Just before Roger Clemens brought the baseball world to a screeching halt, Bill James sent out an e-mail to a group of his friends pointing out that Coco Crisp "has been just unbelievable in center field". David Pinto was the first to note the e-mail publicly (baseballmusings.com), posting a chart of Crisp's putouts that demonstrate "he's catching balls close and far". In a subsequent post, David noted that Crisp has "caught nine balls (this season) that weren't caught last year"
Seth Mnookin shared more of the e-mail (sethmnookin.com), including a very interesting observation from James: "If Coco had been 11-for-20 with the bat over the last week, everybody would be talking about that. If he’d had a few good games as a reliever, like Okajima, everybody would be talking about that. But he’s just had this unbelievable streak in center field, and . . . nobody has noticed."
Hopefully, they'll start now.
RETURNING THE SERVE: Curt Schilling doesn't mention him by name, but he's obviously answering Dan Shaughnessy -- among others, I would guess, though I don't know who -- in today's unscheduled edition of 38pitches.com.
(Late edit: My bad. He does mention Shaughnessy by name -- at least by the nickname he uses for him -- and, in best Bill Parcells/Terry Glenn fashion, even refers to him as "she". Whew. Forget Red Sox/Yankees. The best show this summer may be Schilling/Shaughnessy.)
The PawSox got quality pitching from Runelvys Hernandez, Manny Delcarmen and Javier Lopez, but were unable to generate much offense, losing in Scranton, 2-1.
Hernandez, fresh off the disabled list, pitched five innings. His only mistake was a two-run homer by Bronson Sardinha. Hernandez (0-2, 1.47) gave up just 2 hits. The Yankees managed just 3 hits all night.
The PawSox had ample opportunity to move ahead, but never cashed in. Chad Spann hit into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded.
The PawSox have lost 10 of their last 11 games. The series continues on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. David Pauley (0-0, 3.00) faces Steven Jackson (2-2, 7.15).
Here is how Sean describes the reaction to news of Clemens' deal yesterday in the Red Sox clubhouse:
"You had a bunch of guys who were a little stunned by the timing of it. We had been led to believe that the decision-making process might not come to frutiion until later this month. I think some guys were privately astonished at the amont of the deal: $28 million prorated, which makes Clemens the highest-paid single-season performer ever in team sports, I think, at least in North America. And I think from a team standpoint the feeling was, well it would have been nice to have him, but we have a pretty good pitching staff here, and we can win without him. And you kind of got the sense that that might be something of a rallying point for the team as the season progresses -- that, you know, Roger took the big money to go to New York, but the Red Sox would like nothing better than to prove to him that he made the wrong choice."
And here's McAdam's assessment of the impact of the deal on the Yankees:
"It certainly provides a temporary psychological boost to them. You know -- they've been scuffling, they've been calling kids up from Double A to make their major league debut simply to have a starting pitcher. So the arrival of what is now or what will soon be the winningest active pitcher in baseball, and the eighth-winningest pitcher of all time, seven Cy Youngs and all of Clemens' pedigree has to I think boost the Yankees' chances and their morale. They can see that, you know, he's off in the distance and is coming to their rescue. But I think once you get past all the excitement, you have to ask how different will it be for Clemens pitching in the American League East again after pitching in what is arguably the worst division in baseball for the last two years."
CLEMENS: Where to begin? How about with the New York tabloids, whose front and back pages -- the Daily News and the Post -- were restrained, far more so than the ones announcing he was ending his "retirement" and signing with Houston in 2004. ("Texas Two-Face" was the Daily News' entry, while the Post screamed, "What An Asstro!") The Post, as is its wont, painted yesterday's theatrics as a case of the Yankees beating the Red Sox and Astros to the punch ("I think when Roger Clemens says he's ready to play, teams should listen," they quoted Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, as saying), downplaying the facts that the Yanks bid $10 million more than the Red Sox and agreed to the come-and-go-as-you-please schedule that Yankee apologists always claimed would never fly in New York. The Daily News was more even-handed, and their quote from Brian Cashman -- "This is a huge statement. Don't count us out because we want to be in it for the long haul and we'll do everything we can to stay in it for the long haul." -- probably framed it all better than anything else.
MATH NEVER WAS HIS STRONG SUIT: Perhaps the most interesting comment was made by Lupica, who wrote: "Clemens talked about how gosh-darned important it is to win one for 'the three or four guys down here that still don't have a championship ring.' '' Three or four?? By my count, 18 of the 25 active Yankees -- Brian Bruney, Kyle Farnsworth, Sean Henn, Kei Igawa, Mike Mussina, Scott Proctor, Darrell Rasner, Luis Vizcaino, Chien-Ming Wong, Wil Nieves, Miguel Cairo, Robinson Cano, Josh Phelps, Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi -- have never won a World Series championship. Of the seven that have, almost as many won with the Red Sox (Mike Myers, Doug Mientkiewicz and Johnny Damon) as with the Yankees (Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter).
More than anything, that demonstrates that the Yankee dynasty to which Clemens hitched his wagon in 1999 is over. The Yankees could win, but they're not favored to win. Clemens makes them better, because Roger Clemens in any form is better than Kei Igawa or Chase Wright, or any of the others ne'er-do-wells masquarading as Yankee starting pitchers these days. But facts are facts: He'll be 45 years old in August and he hasn't pitched in the American League -- a.k.a. the major leagues -- in four years. We shall see what sort of savior he winds up being.
A BIG ONE, ACTUALLY: That what the New York Sun's Tim Marchman thinks: "Clemens's impact on the pennant race . . . should give the Yankees an advantage over the Red Sox roughly comparable to the Sox's lead in the standings. And none of this accounts for the impact he'll have on the bullpen. Last year, Clemens pitched at least five innings in every one of his starts. A horse like that makes it a lot easier to schedule days off for overworked relievers, which is one of the Yankees' main problems these days."
Five innings a start now qualifies you as a horse?? Saddle up and come on down, Julian Tavarez!
OR MAYBE NOT: MSNBC's Mike Celizic has a different take: "Don’t kid yourself. It’s not automatic that Clemens is going to climb into his pinstripes and into the winner’s circle.''
DOG'S EYE VIEW: We knew our old friend Steve Silva on Boston Dirt Dogs would be all over this, and he didn't disappoint. (''Rogerk'' -- not bad!) But in the midst of it all, he hits the one discordant note for Red Sox Nation:
What Would the Red Sox Do With Roger Clemens?
Sincerely, Willie McGee
MINNEAPOLIS -- The last thing Minnesota's struggling, short-handed offense needed was a date with Curt Schilling.
Boston's ace tied a season high with seven strikeouts and the Red Sox hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Twins on Sunday.
Schilling (4-1) allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, and Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with two doubles for the Red Sox, who took two of three from a Twins team that scored just five runs in the series.
Minnesota starter Sidney Ponson (2-4) gave up four runs, three earned, and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked four.
Jason Tyner's two-run single with two outs in the seventh chased Schilling. Torii Hunter added an RBI single off Hideki Okajima to cut Boston's lead to 4-3. But AL MVP Justin Morneau grounded out to end the inning, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 tries.
Hunter extended his career-high hitting streak to 21 games with an infield single in the sixth, but the Twins are sorely missing two big hitters in the middle of the lineup.
Reigning AL batting champ Joe Mauer missed his second straight game with a strained left quadriceps muscle and cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer has missed five in a row with a bruised back.
Schilling took advantage, cruising through the first six innings to help the Red Sox maintain their 5 1/2-game cushion over the New York Yankees in an AL East race that got a lot more interesting on Sunday with Roger Clemens' announcement that he will pitch in pinstripes this season.
The Yankees made the move to bolster an injury-depleted pitching staff. With Clemens, they hope to compete with Boston's strong rotation. Schilling headlines a group that includes Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield, and the Red Sox (20-10) are off to one of the best starts in franchise history.
The Twins have plenty of questions in their rotation behind ace Johan Santana. Ponson, the 6-foot-1, 258-pound right-hander from Aruba, might be the biggest. They signed him in the offseason in hopes that he could provide some veteran stability at the back end of the rotation.
Ponson got off to a shaky start when he gave up a leadoff single to Coco Crisp, hit Alex Cora with a pitch that nearly went behind him and walked David Ortiz. Cora scored on a double by J.D. Drew.
After Ponson struck out the side in the second, the Red Sox went up 2-0 in the third when Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by Kevin Youkilis.
They added two more in the fifth thanks to a throwing error by Ponson.
With runners on first and third and none out, Mike Lowell hit a bouncer back to Ponson. The pitcher hesitated, then tried to start a double play, but his throw to second was low and all the runners were safe.
Ponson smacked himself in the head after the play, and the Red Sox parlayed the error into a two-run inning that made it 4-0, giving Schilling just enough support.
Notes: Before the game, a scoring change was announced on a play in the ninth inning of Saturday night's game. Twins 3B Nick Punto was initially charged with an error when a ball hit by Youkilis squirted under his glove in the hole between shortstop and third base. On Sunday, Youkilis was credited with a hit, and the error was wiped off Punto's record.
Updated at 4:46 p.m.: Clemens returning to Yankees
Roger Clemens returned to the New York Yankees, making a dramatic announcement to fans from the owner's box during Sunday's game against the Seattle Mariners.
At the end of the seventh-inning stretch, Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard told fans to turn their attention to the box, where Clemens was standing with a microphone. As the video scoreboard in right-center showed Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner made the announcement himself.
"Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back," Clemens said. "I'll be talking to y'all soon."
Clemens, who will turn 45 in August, agreed to a minor league contract and most likely will join the Yankees after spending several weeks getting into shape. He hopes to be pitching in the major leagues by late May or June 1.
"I'm about at playing weight right now," he said. "I feel pretty good."
The Rocket pitched for New York from 1999-2003. He left the Yankees after the 2003 season, saying he was retiring, but after Andy Pettitte signed with the Houston Astros, Clemens followed his friend to their hometown team.
Pettitte returned to the Yankees this year, and Clemens followed on Sunday.
"It's another challenge," said Clemens, eighth on the career list with 348 wins. "I expect to do things at the age of 44, 45 like I did at 25."
He chose New York over two of his other former teams, the Astros and Boston Red Sox.
"Let's face it -- these guys know how to win," Clemens said, adding that captain Derek Jeter pressed him to return as New York struggled early this season.
The Yankees have been beset by a rash of injuries to their pitching staff, contributing to a disappointing 14-15 start. But they beat the Mariners 5-0 on Sunday for their fifth victory in six games after losing eight of nine.
"Derek was on me once a week, especially when things weren't working out," Clemens said. "I see the problems with the pitching staff, too, the injuries are incredible."
Clemens said the entire process happened within the past 48 hours or so, and he didn't even tell Pettitte or Jeter that it was a done deal.
"Andy is going to be pretty upset with me," Clemens said.
Clemens will have the same travel privileges he had with Houston last year, when he sometimes skipped road trips if he wasn't scheduled to pitch. Instead, he spent the time at home with his family or working with Astros minor leaguers.
Yankees manager Joe Torre ran that issue by several clubhouse leaders who signed off on the arrangement, general manager Brian Cashman said.
"It's time to go to work," Clemens said. "I've got a lot of work to do to get back up here."
Traded from Toronto to the Yankees before the 1999 season, Clemens helped New York win consecutive World Series titles in his first two seasons in the Bronx. He won the AL Cy Young Award with a 20-3 record in 2001 and was a member of pennant winners that year and in 2003.
"As I pledged just a few days ago, I will do everything within my power to support Brian Cashman, Joe Torre and this team as we fight to bring a 27th championship to New York," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "Roger Clemens is a winner and a champion, and he is someone who can be counted on to help make this season one that all Yankees fans can be proud of. The sole mission of this organization is to win a world championship."
MINNEAPOLIS — Johan Santana picked up the victory in a rare five-inning outing and the Minnesota Twins hung on to beat Julian Tavarez and the Boston Red Sox 2-1 Saturday night.
Jason Bartlett's infield single in a two-run second inning was enough to beat Tavarez (1-3), who outpitched the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner and turned in his best start this year.
The only score against Santana (4-2) came on a bloop double by Dustin Pedroia that hit the white line with two outs in the fourth and drove in Wily Mo Pena.
Though Santana lasted at least five innings for the 98th consecutive start, that's all he went after throwing 98 pitches. He surrendered seven hits and two walks while striking out five.
Boston left a runner in scoring position in each of the first six innings and had a three-game winning streak end.
Joe Nathan got the last four outs for his eighth save. Center fielder Torii Hunter ran down a long drive by David Ortiz for the second out in the ninth, and Nathan struck out Manny Ramirez to end it.
Hunter extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a double in the sixth for the Twins, matching the longest streak in the majors this season.
Tavarez struck out seven while allowing four hits, two runs and three walks in six innings. It was his longest outing this year and the only time he'd allowed less than three runs.
With only one victory in the past six days, the Twins needed a lift from their left-handed ace — who lost his previous two starts at home to end a personal streak of 17 straight victories. During that winning span, Minnesota won all 24 times that Santana pitched at the Metrodome.
He hasn't been very sharp, by his standards, over the last three weeks, but he is typically a slow starter who finds his rhythm after the All-Star break.
Escaping the first two innings without a score was a feat for Santana, who threw 30 pitches in the first frame, gave up two long foul balls to Ortiz and walked two.
Santana got out of a bases-loaded jam to end his evening. Mike Lowell grounded out to third baseman Nick Punto, who threw from his knees.
In the second inning, with runners at first and second, Julio Lugo hit a sharp line drive directly to first baseman Justin Morneau that turned into an easy double play when Pedroia couldn't dive fast enough back to the bag.
The Twins entered the game with a .277 team average, tied for the top spot in the league, but their lineup is struggling. Cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer won't play until at least Tuesday because of a bruised back, and catcher Joe Mauer — the reigning AL batting champion — was scratched from the lineup because of a sore left quadriceps muscle.
With a league-low 16 homers, 12 of which have come with nobody on base, Minnesota used a small-ball rally — emphasis on small — to score twice in the second inning against Tavarez.
Morneau's one-out single was the only ball that escaped the infield. Jason Kubel and Jeff Cirillo followed with walks. Jason Tyner drove in the first run with a grounder, and Bartlett's sharp single glanced off Lowell's glove at third to make it 2-0.
-David Ortiz, four straight multi-hit games; is 14 for 35 (.400) in last nine games.
-Manny Ramirez, four straight multi-hit games, going 8 for 17 (.471) with 3 home runs in that stretch
-Kevin Youkilis, nine-game hitting streak; 13 for 35 (.371) during that stretch
-J.D. Drew, 2 for his last 26 (.077)
-Julio Lugo, 11 for his last 61 (.180)
Red Sox vs. Carlos Silva
-David Ortiz, 4 for 9 (.444)
-Kevin Youkilis, 2 for 5 (.400)
-Alex Cora, 6 for 15 (.400)
-Julio Lugo, 3 for 8 (.375)
-Jason Varitek, 2 for 7 (.286)
-Coco Crisp, 4 for 15 (.267)
-Mike Lowell, 3 for 13 (.231)
-J.D. Drew, 1 for 6 (.167)
-Manny Ramirez, 0 for 9
Twins vs. Tim Wakefield
-Joe Mauer, 3 for 5 (.600)
-Justin Morneau, 3 for 5 (.600)
-Luis Castillo, 9 for 17 (.529)
-Jason Bartlett, 3 for 7 (.429), 1 HR
-Torii Hunter, 11 for 29 (.379), 2 HR
-Jason Kubel, 1 for 3
-Michael Cuddyer, 3 for 14 (.214)
-Nick Punto, 1 for 8 (.125)
-Jason Tyner, 0 for 6
-The Red Sox have lost seven of their last nine games against the Twins, and seven of the last eight in Minnesota.
-At 9-5, Boston has the best winning percentage on the road (.643) of any American League team.
"Manny's still rounding the bases, but Sox get the win," says Boston Dirt Dogs today. And boy was that a long stare that Ramirez gave his eighth-inning home run off Chris Reitsma to win yesterday's game with Seattle. It was quite a night for Manny, who did his best Willie Mays impersonation while basket catching a routine pop-up for the second out of the disastrous 5-run Seattle first inning, then blasted one over the Monster off Horacio "no relation" Ramirez, before hitting a real rocket off Reitsma to win it in the eighth. "I can see why he probably admired it," said manager Terry Francona after the game.
Ramirez now stands at 475 home runs for his career, tied for 27th all-time with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell. He's two home runs short of Jim Thome and three home runs short of Alex Rodriguez on that list. He has multiple hits in four straight games, a stretch in which he is hitting 8 for 17 with three home runs and six RBI. But tonight he faces Carlos Silva, a guy against whom he is 0 for 9 for his career.
Today on projo SoxTalk, Art Martone talks about what he thinks might be bothering Daisuke Matsuzaka. He says the problems are probably mechanical in nature, and wonders if the language barrier might be making it more difficult for the team to get a handle on the problem. But Martone also sees this as a temporary problem that will be fixed at some point this season. Click here to listen to the full audio file.
Martone also discusses Jacoby Ellsbury, the center-field prospect who is making his Pawtucket debut tonight. Ellsbury has been hyped for a while now, but his rise through the system has been even faster than projected, Martone says.
The Red Sox' most heralded offensive prospect, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, will be in the Pawtucket starting lineup tonight for the first time when the PawSox take on the Indianapolis Indians at 7:05, according to the PawSox Web site.
For more on Ellsbury, click here to read Sean McAdam's story about top Sox farmhands.
ON THE WATCH: The nightly Matsuzaka one-inning meltdown is becoming a local concern, especially now that it happened against a decidedly Grade B offense -- unlike those of the Yankees and Blue Jays, against whom he had similar problems -- and it'll be interesting to see if it becomes a national, and international, one as well. (matsuzaka.blogspot.com) As this is being written, the Matsuzaka Watch hasn't weighed in on last night's doings, but it does have some other interesting tidbids.
TRADITIONALISTS: The staid White Sox, on the other hand, find more conventional scapegoats. The hitting coach is usually their target of choice, and Greg Walker apparently is the latest. (Chicago Sun-Times)
(Interesting that Ron ''Papa Jack'' Jackson, who walked the plank in Boston just last fall, was the first such Chicago casualty, back in 1998.)
DEAR MICHAEL: Yankees announcer Michael Kay opens the mailbag and addresses the burning question in Yankee Universe: Why don't Yankee pitchers hit Red Sox hitters with the same frequency that Red Sox pitchers hit Yankee hitters?
TRADE TALK: MLB Trade Rumors is chewing on a whispered Yankees-Phillies swap of Jon Lieber for Kyle Farnsworth. (mlbtraderumors.com) Why does Farnsworth -- all power, huge potential, not enough production -- strike me as being the 21st-century, pitching version of Dave Kingman, minus the toxic personality?
There are times when you find an interesting story without even looking. Here’s one that just fell into our lap.
We’re just back form dinner in the cafeteria that serves the media and Red Sox workers. The dinner partners for Steven Krasner and I included Mike Shalin, the official scorer last night and again tonight.
Shalin’s always entertaining. He was trying to convince Steven and I to eat what he was eating.
``I don’t even know what this is,’’ he said as he took a bite of some kind of meat that was cooked into a square, ``but it’s really good.’’ He asked one of the workers if she knew. He kept eating (Steven and I stayed with the salad). When she returned, she told him it was Japanese-style fried chicken. Shalin simply said again, ``It’s very good.’’
When he wasn’t trying to find out what he was eating for dinner, Shalin told a story of how he had given Mike Lowell a stolen base this afternoon, when no one was playing. Well, actually, how the Elias Stat Bureau had ordered that Lowell be given a stolen base from Wednesday night’s game.
Lowell was on first base in the seventh inning and took off on a hit-and-run, which became botched when Oakland pitched out. Catcher Jason Kendall began heading out toward Lowell, now stranded between first and second. When Lowell took off toward second, Kendall’s throw was in the dirt and Lowell was safe.
Shalin, doing what seemed to be the proper thing, called an error on the throw and a caught stealing. It seemed the proper ruling.
Shalin reported, as he munched on his chicken, that he received a call from the Elias people today. They went over the play and decided that, according to the rules, Lowell should have been credited with a stolen base.
``It’s one of those crazy baseball rules,’’ Shalin said. ``It has to be a stolen base because the only throw made was by the catcher. If the first baseman had made the same throw, it would have been an error, no stolen base. I was told that it’s one of the things they want to talk about changing when they meet during the off-season. It’s something that maybe happens once a year. But the way the rule is right now, it has to be a stolen base.’’
Shalin shrugged and said he understood. Then he went back and got more of his new favorite meal.
Jeff Yamaguchi was put to work early yesterday in his new job as Hideki Okajima’s personal translator.
While Okajima was upstairs getting in his weight work before tonight’s game, Yamaguchi was asked if he knew of Okajima’s situation for tonight. The lefty, who has been superb in relief, has pitched in 10 of the last 16 Sox games.
``He was told absolutely not to throw today,’’ Yamaguchi said. Terry Francona confirmed that during his usual pre-game meeting.
``He’s not going to pitch tonight,’’ Francona said. ``I don’t think he was as sharp last night as he has been. That’s my fault, not his fault.’’ Francona told Okajima that he would get a night off even as the team was celebrating Wednesday’s victory.
``I told him. He nodded his head,’’ Francona said. ``I don’t know if he knew what I was saying, but he nodded his head.’’
``We don’t want to run him into the gorund,’’ Francona said of giving Okajima the night off.
With lefty Horacio Ramirez pitching for Seattle tonight, the Red Sox were hoping to find a way to get Wily Mo Pena into the lineup. J.D. Drew’s illness turned out to be the way to do it.
Pena will play right field tonight and hit seventh in the lineup. Drew, who had returned from an illness and played Wednesday night, will get the night off, at least at the start.
``I don’t think he feels real good,’’ Francona said of Drew, who had one of the key hits in the victory over Oakland Wednesday. ``I probably rushed him back.’’ Francona said he had been trying to find a way to get Pena in the game, so Drew’s situation made it easy for him.
``It covers both birds with one stone,’’ the manager said.
Jon Lester was welcomed back to Fenway Park today amid lots of handshakes, hugs and smiles. The smiles became even broader when all indications pointed to the fact that his latest setback is a minor one.
The young lefthander was the feature attraction in the Sox clubhouse as he returned for further tests on his left arm. Lester was removed early in his start in Pawtucket Wednesday night because of problems in his left forearm.
``It seems like a cramp,’’ manager Terry Francona said after speaking with Lester. That confirms what Lester indicated after pitching at McCoy. Franconca said Lester was going to be examined by Tom Gill, the team doctor, to be certain. Assuming it is merely a cramp, Lester will make only small adjustments in his schedule.
``We’ll maybe back him off a couple days, then get him a side day, then get him back on the mound,’’ the manager said. Lester reported that he has had similar problems in the past.
``Mostly it happens to him in the first month of the season,’’ Francona said. No one is sure why.
``It could be the way he’s gripping a pitch. Who knows. You don’t know. We’ve all gotten a cramp before,’’ Francona said. ``Most of the time you don’t know why you got it.’’
If the examination goes as expected, it appears all but certain that Lester will be activated from the disabled list soon and then sent back to Pawtucket to get in more work. Francona made it clear all indications are that the issue is minor.
``It’s exciting to talk about baseball stuff with him again,’’ the manager said.
-Alex Cora is 10 for 25 (.400) in his last 10 games with an at-bat, including a double, 2 triples, 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 5 runs scored.
-Coco Crisp has hit safely in eight straight games and is 13 for 32 (.406) with 11 runs and 4 RBI in that time.
-Kevin Youkilis has also hit safely in eight straight games, and is 12 for 31 (.387) with a double, a homer, four RBI, eight walks and eight runs scored in that time.
-David Ortiz is 12 for his last 31 (.387) with 6 RBI, six runs and seven walks.
-Manny Ramirez is 6 for his last 12 with a homer and 3 RBI.
-J.D. Drew is 2 for his last 26 (.077).
-Dustin Pedroia is 1 for his last 14.
Mariners vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
-Kenji Johjima, 2 for 3
-Jose Lopez, 2 for 3
-Jose Vidro, 2 for 4
-Jose Guillen, 1 for 2
-Adrian Beltre, 1 for 3
-Yuniesky Betancourt, 0 for 2
-Raul Ibanez, 0 for 3
-Richie Sexson, 0 for 3
-Ichiro Suzuki, 0 for 4
Red Sox vs. Horacio Ramirez
-Mike Lowell, 6 for 15 (.400), 1 HR
-Wily Mo Pena, 2 for 7 (.286), 1 HR
-J.D. Drew, 1 for 4
-Julio Lugo, 0 for 3
No other Red Sox player has faced Ramirez.
-The Red Sox' 4 1/2-game lead in the American League East is their largest at this point in the season since 1946.
-Last night's win was the team's 10th come-from-behind victory, out of 17 total wins.
-Red Sox minor league players of the month: Jacoby Ellsbury (Portland) and Bubba Bell (Lancaster) tied for offensive player of the month; Michael Bowden (Lancaster) is pitcher of the month; Iggy Suarez (Lancaster/Portland) is defensive player of the month; and Ellsbury is base-runner of the month.
Indianapolis scored two runs in the top of the 10th as reliever Manny Delcarmen uncorked two wild pitches to pave the way for both runs to come home.
The PawSox are about to bat in the bottom of the 10th, down 9-7.
The PawSox rallied in the ninth inning with Jeff Bailey hitting a two-run, two-out single that tied the score, 7-7.
We're heading to extra innings as the Sox hang in and try to snap a 5-game losing streak.
Uh-oh. The reeling PawSox (5 straight losses) just surrendered a 2-run homer to Yurendell De Caster in the top of the ninth that broke a 5-5 tie.
It's Indianapolis 7, Pawtucket 5 as we go to the bottom of the ninth.
We're into the ninth inning still tied at McCoy at 5-5. Both teams wasted chances in the eighth. The Indians had two base stealers thrown out at second base. The PSox wasted a one-out single by Kevin Cash.
Edgar Martinez is still on the mound to start the ninth. The Sox are looking to snap a 5-game losing streak,
Both teams left two runners on base but could not punch in a run in the seventh inning. It's still 5-5 after 7.
Edgar Martinez, who has struggled out of the bullpen, is on to pitch the 8th for the PawSox.
Indianapolis scored a single run in the top of the sixth inning off David Pauley to tie the PawSox, 5-5. The Sox failed to score in the last of the inning.
Craig Breslow has replaced Pauley to start the seventh inning.
Plenty of fireworks erupted in the second inning of the PawSox-Indianapolis game.
In the top of the frame, the Indians scored four times on five singles off David Pauley to grab a 4-0 lead.
The PawSox fought back in the bottom of the second and batted around the order on the way to 5 runs. Brandon Moss hit a leadoff home run to right and Bobby Scales doubled in another run to make it 4-2. With the bases loaded, David Murphy walked with the bases loaded. Jeff Bailey then cracked a 2-run single to make it 5-4 after two innings.
The 5 runs equal Pawtucket's highest scoring inning of the season.
The PawSox and Indianapolis Indians have begun their game at McCoy Stadium under beautiful, sunny skies and 62 degree temps. We'll see if the nice weather can help wake up the home team's bats.
Pawtucket has lost five straight games and seemingly can't hit anyone. They are last in the International League in hitting (.227) and haven't shown much pop at the plate.
Starting pitcher David Pauley retired the Indians in the top of the first. Indy starter Michael Tejera walked Joe McEwing in the home half of the first but retired the rest of the top of the order with ease.
It's 0-0 after one inning.
On Josh Beckett's back, which was sore as the game went on last night: "It seemed to flare up. It seemed he caught his spike a little bit in a follow-through and almost sort of wrenched his back for a little bit, and I think he might have otherwise gone a little later into the game. But they wanted to be a bit careful there, and that's why they took him out after seven."
On Coco Crisp: "One of the positive things for the Red Sox is, he seems to be using his speed more. He's being very aggressive. You see him stealing bases; he's hit a couple of balls that were sort of glorified chops down the line, but once they get out of the infield he's capable of turning into extra bases -- doubles, even triples in some instances. I think people remember that big triple he hit against the Yankees in the first series at Fenway a couple of weeks ago, a ball that might otherwise have been fielded by the first baseman, but when it got by Doug Mientkiewicz and rolled into the corner, Crisp's speed is such that he can really take advantage of that. And even when he was hitting leadoff last year, it seemed like he didn't do more of that, and maybe they were correct in putting him at the bottom of the order. It sort of frees him up a little more, and now that he's making better contact than he was in the first few weeks, it's sort of all coming together for him."
On American League Rookie of the Month Hideki Okajima: I think if you had told people at the start of the season that the American League Rookie of the Month for April was going to be a Japanese pitcher, the assumption would have been that it would be Daisuke Matsuzaka. He was the one who came on with all the billing and expectation and hype. He's pitched pretty well, but Okajima has been kind of a revelation in the bullpen. He has been unquestionably their most consistent set-up guy.
"They've used him everywhere from the sixth to the eighth inning, and everyplace in between. He's gotten lefties and righties out, and the numbers are staggering, you know, he's got a batting average against of below .100. He's got an E.R.A. under 1.00. He can get lefties and righties out, and he's been really the biggest find of the first five weeks of the season, and it was nice to see him get recognized for that."
RUSH TO JUDGMENT: One of those prospects, Anibal Sanchez, pitched a no-hitter last year and Red Sox haters were chortling that the Sox had given up a potential star. Sanchez' star isn't shining quite as brightly this year, as such statistics as ''has given up an average of more than two baserunners per inning in his six starts this season'' and ''has yet to pitch into the seventh in any of his starts'' indicate. (Miami Herald)
SHOWING THE LOVE . . . OR IS IT FORCED? Baseball Tonight's Fernando Vina thinks Beckett is one of the three top starters in baseball, though Jared Park of the Miscellaneous Media blog thinks he may have been under orders to choose different names than those put forth by fellow analyst John Kruk. (miscellaneousmedia.blogspot.com) ''Apparently,'' writes Park, ''it’s not a fireable offense for a retired second baseman to think Johan Santana isn’t one of the three best pitchers in baseball.''
HELPFUL HINTS: Joe Posnanski presents a glossary of terms for baseball fans, sparked by the observation from a reader that '' 'Five-tool player' means he can't hit.'' Among the terms: ''Clubhouse presence [means] old player who can't play anymore.'' Why does Ellis Burks, 2004, leap to mind? (thesoulofbaseball.blogspot.com)
Lester suffers tightness in forearm; next start uncertain
PAWTUCKET -- Jon Lester was removed from tonight's start after three innings because of tightness in his left forearm, and the Pawtucket Red Sox say they are uncertain when he will make his next start.
Lester, however, told reporters he thinks he will be able to pitch when his rotation turn comes up again.
The PawSox say Lester was taken out of the game as a precautionary measure.
Drugs found in Cepeda's car after traffic violation
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, who spent the 1973 season with the Red Sox, was arrested after a California Highway Patrol officer pulled him over for speeding and discovered drugs in the car.
Cepeda spent five years in prison in the 1980s after a conviction on drug smuggling, which many feel delayed his entrance to the Hall of Fame. He currently works for the San Francisco Giants, the team with whom he started his career, as a community liaison and speaks to at-risk children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
The former San Francisco Giants star was stopped about 3 p.m. Tuesday after his 2001 Lexus was clocked going 83 mph in a 65 mph zone on Interstate 80 in Cordelia, about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, the CHP said.
While approaching the vehicle, “the officer smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the car,” CHP Sgt. Wulf Corrington said Wednesday.
The CHP officer arrested Cepeda after finding a “usable” amount of a white-powder substance that likely was methamphetamine or cocaine, Corrington said. The officer also found marijuana and a syringe, he added.
Cepeda, 69, was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of a controlled substance, along with possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors.
Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said neither the team nor Cepeda would have an immediate comment about his arrest.
“The arresting officer did not see visible signs of intoxication or being under the influence,” Corrington said.
Cepeda, alone at the time of the arrest, was booked and released from the Solano County Jail on Tuesday, Corrington said. Bail had been set at $12,600, according to the Solano County Jail log.
Cepeda has not yet been charged, and the Solano County District Attorney's office declined to comment on his arrest. The district attorney's office would not discuss potential sentences because it had not yet received a recommendation from the CHP.
The Giants said Cepeda had hired attorney Ted Cassman of Berkeley, who did not immediately return a telephone call. A message left on Cepeda's phone wasn't immediately returned Wednesday evening.
After his playing career ended, Cepeda was convicted in 1976 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, of smuggling marijuana and sentenced to five years in prison.
That conviction was probably one reason he was not elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Cepeda eventually was elected by the Veterans Committee in 1999.
A first baseman during his 17 big league seasons, Cepeda started his career with the Giants and moved on to St. Louis, Atlanta, Oakland, Boston and Kansas City.
A seven-time All-Star who played in three World Series, Cepeda was known as “Baby Bull” and “Cha-Cha.” He was the 1958 NL Rookie of the Year with San Francisco and the NL MVP in 1967 with St. Louis. In 1961, he led the National League with 46 home runs and 142 RBIs.
Cepeda was a .297 career hitter with 379 home runs and 1,365 RBIs.
PAWTUCKET -- Jon Lester's march back to the majors ran into a speed bump in the first inning at McCoy Stadium tonight. The Indianapolis Indians scored twice off Lester in the first on a walk, stolen base and a run-scoring single and double.
His second inning went a lot smoother than the first. The lefty set the Indians down in order on a fly out-strikeout-fly out. He threw just 12 pitches, 8 for strikes.
Les Otten, the former ski industry mogul who became a part owner of the Boston Red Sox, has sold his share back to the team ownership group he helped form, he said Wednesday.
“I always wanted to own part of a baseball team,” Otten said. “I had a great time, and I've got some other things in my sights that I want to do.”
Otten said he sold his share last month, but wouldn't say what percentage of the team he owned or the selling price.
He also wouldn't say what businesses he wants to pursue and, citing a confidentiality agreement, wouldn't comment on reports that he'll return to the American Skiing Co. he founded. The company forced him out in 2001, shortly before Otten and a group of investors led by John Henry bought the Red Sox for $660 million.
Otten did say that after spending months every year with the Red Sox, he was ready for a more active role in his next venture.
“I'm sort of an active participant in whatever I want to do and I was never going to be given permission to have (manager Terry Francona's) job,” he said, laughing.
“At the end of the day, I'd rather be driving the race car and playing the baseball game and there are only so many hours in the day,” he said.
Henry and co-owners Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino did not immediately return messages for comment.
Otten, a native New Yorker, founded American Skiing Co. after starting in the business at the Sunday River in Maine. By 1997, the company had holdings from Vermont to California. But in 2001, the company was heavily in debt and Otten resigned as chairman and chief executive.
A few months later, Otten helped build the partnership that in 2004 would bring the Red Sox its first championship since 1918.
The best memory for the former New York Yankees fan was rushing onto the field at Yankee Stadium after the Red Sox completed their comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 American League Championship Series. Otten remembered posing for pictures on the pitchers mound with the other owners as the home team grew impatient with their lingering.
“That still brings shivers up my spine,” he said. “What a great moment to be part of that.”
Otten also advocated for the ongoing restoration on Fenway Park, including new seats and vending options that have ended all talk of replacing the stadium.
Though he's looking forward to what's next, the decision to sell was tough, Otten said.
“When I came to the realization that, whether I owned a piece of the team or I was just a fan of the team, that my love of the team and the game wouldn't change, I realized that I was just absolutely fine to be out of the dugout,” he said.
As expected, manager Terry Francona is starting Alex Cora at second base tonight in place of rookie Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia, though, is expected to be back in the starting lineup tomorrow night when the Red Sox open a three-game series in Minnesota.
Pedroia's average dipped to .172 (10 for 58) after an 0-for-3 collar he took Tuesday night. And while he has had some tough at-bats, he also hasn't had much luck. He was robbed of a hit by Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove winner.
"That's okay," said Pedroia of Chavez's thievery. "It'll turn around."
Then he walked to the cage for some early batting practice.
Jonathan Papelbon, who threw 35 pitches in one inning Tuesday night, will not pitch tonight, no matter the circumstances.
Manager Terry Francona indicated this afternoon he planned to stay away from Papelbon tonight. The right-hander blew his first save in nine chances Tuesday night, coughing up his first runs of the season on Travis Buck's game-tying two-run homer on a fat 0-and-2 pitch with none out in the ninth.
The last time Papelbon wasn't available because he needed a rest, Francona called on Hideki Okajima. The left-hander responded by racking up a save against the Yankees on April 20.
Okajima, who boasts a 0.66 earned-run average in 13 appearances, totaling 13 2/3 innings, would seem to be the best choice if a save is on the line tonight.
J.D. Drew, who was scratched from the starting lineup Tuesday night because of "viral symptoms," is at the ballpark this afternoon, getting ready for batting practice. He has been penciled into the starting lineup.
Drew was given medications by the Sox' medical staff on Tuesday and sent home to rest. Manager Terry Francona said he had checked with head trainer Paul Lessard, who had been in contact with Drew earlier today, and was told Drew wanted to give it a try tonight.
"He's fully expecting to play," said Francona. "We want him to go through batting practice and (see how he is), and if we have to make a change we will, but I think he'll play."
It has nothing to do with the fact that he has become a go-to guy out of Boston's bullpen, turning in one effective outing after another.
That's the Red Sox story, and they're sticking to it.
But the bottom line is that, as of today, Hideki Okajima, the impressive veteran left-hander Boston signed as a free agent from Japan, now has his own personal translator/interpreter.
The man's name is Jeff Yamaguchi. He's a former golf professional who has done some translating in Japan for pro golfers when they play in that country.
Sachiyo Sekiguchi, the Sox' Japanese media and player coordinator, had been handling those duties, but the team had been seeking a more permanent, personal translator for Okajima, as it has with Daisuke Matsuzaka., since spring training, said John Blake, vice-president of media relations.
Masa Hoshino performs that function for Dice-K.
Translators are not able to sit in the dugout during games, but can be in the batting cage and the area behind the dugout. Manager Terry Francona said that during batting practice, they sit in the dugout in case they are needed to impart strategy or instruction, but otherwise the Sox want the Japanese players to assimilate themselves with their teammates and vice versa.
Manny Ramirez has now had two straight multiple hit games, after collecting two last night against Oakland. Unfortunately, he couldn't get his bat on the ball against Huston Street in the 10th inning, when he struck out for the second-to-last out of the game. It seemed to me that Ramirez had struck out an unusually high number of times this year, but I was surprised to find that he had only gone down 16 times in 25 games. That would put him on pace for 103 strikeouts this year, well below his personal record of 147, set during 2001, his first season with Boston.
It's almost hard to believe, now that Manny has been here so long, that he still does not have as many hits in a Red Sox uniform (1,000) as he collected with the Cleveland Indians (1,086).
Ramirez had an interesting fielding play last night when -- I think it was Bobby Crosby batting -- a line drive single went into left field. Ramirez stood stock still waiting for the ball to come to him, but instead it sliced to his right, in the general direction of the left-field corner. Ramirez had to throw his glove out to keep it from scooting right by him. Then, of course, he quickly reached into his mitt and fired back into the infield, in his effortless, trademark style.
What They're Saying: The Boston Globe today reviews Merengue, a Dominican-style restaurant in Roxbury where Ramirez and David Ortiz are regulars.
Sean McAdam joins Art today on Projo SoxTalk, the day after the Red Sox' stunning 10-inning defeat at the hands of the Oakland Athletics. Click here to listen to the full audio file. A lot of people probably thought they could go to bed when Jonathan Papelbon entered the game in the ninth inning with a two-run lead and with the bottom of Oakland's light-hitting order coming around, but we all know what happened. Sean says it didn't appear that Papelbon was hurting on the mound -- just that he didn't have it.
"Both (Papelbon) and a number of teamates mentioned that he just didn't seem to have the good command of his fastball, which is something that usually is pretty key for him," McAdam said. "He wasn't locating with a couple of his pitches and that came back to haunt him."
McAdam went on to discuss manager Terry Francona's comments yesterday on the Alex Cora-Dustin Pedroia second-base controversy. At the end of the game, Cora pinch-hit for Pedroia (he was intentionally walked).
"I was a little surprised that Francona was as candid as he was on that topic, because he sort of cut off any debate at the knees whhen this subject has been brought up previously, saying that Pedroia is the guy who is going to play the position and Cora's around as a utility guy and to hep him," McAdam said. "But yesterday he kind of acknowledged that it is getting harder and harder not to let Cora play after he has games like he did Sunday at Yankee Stadium, where he hit a home run and a triple ... He's been just terrific, more than they could have anticipated. I think it's important though, and I think Francona is taking into account, to remember that Cora's a .245 lifetime hitter, and for the terrific month of April that he had -- and the Red Sox are happy that he had such an outstanding first month -- he sort of is what he is, which is a very capable utility guy who can play three different infield positions, but someone who is unlikely to keep hitting at a .360 clip over the long term."
McAdam also gives his take on rumors out there today that Oakland may be shopping their supremely talented but often injured young pitcher Rich Harden to the Red Sox.
Highlights and lowlights in the world of baseball . . .
LOWLIGHTS: It doesn't get much lower for Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox, though the consensus on last night's meltdown can be boiled down to four words: Can't win 'em all. ''That's the beautiful thing about baseball,'' Papelbon tells Sean McAdam. Steven Krasner's Inside The Game breaks down Papelbon's performance, and, if it's any consolation, points out that it could have been a lot worse. Prior to last night, the Sox bullpen had been the only one in the majors not to blow a save or lose a game. Papelbon took care of the former, Brendan Donnelly the latter. (All stories projo.com)
ESPECIALLY NOW: For 6 1/3 innings last night, there was euphoria in Yankee Universe. And then Phil Hughes hobbled off the mound. ''Has any 10-1 victory in the team's history seemed so depressing?'' asks writer Mike Puma. (New York Post)
The most significant, of course, is Barry Bonds, whom Feinstein says will ''break baseball's most cherished record and stain the game by doing so''. So will the hammer fall before Bonds hits No. 756?
THE STORY CONTINUES: As reports surface over Josh Hancock's use of alcohol, and how it may have been a factor in Saturday night's fatal car accident, Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty addresses the stories and says players are responsible for policing themselves. He also doesn't think manager Tony La Russa's March arrest for DUI ''has compromised his ability to confront players over alcohol abuse''. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
The Red Sox may be catching Oakland at a good time. The A's have six players on the disabled list right now, including three outfielders they had expected to play big roles this season.
Bobby Kielty was the latest to be placed on the DL, going on the list today. He joins fellow outfielders Mark Kotsay and Milton Bradley. Wheaton College's Chris Denorfia, another outfielder whom Oakland obtained recently from Cincinnati, already was on the DL. And Nick Swisher, another outfield candidate, is nursing a tight hamstring and is not in the starting lineup.
How desperate are the A's for outfielders? The other day Oakland swung a deal with Atlanta for Ryan Langerhans, who was batting .068 -- 3 for 44, with 1 double and 1 RBI in 20 games.
The A's have two pitchers on the DL as well -- Rich Harden and Esteban Loaiza.
About an hour before the game, the Red Sox scratched right fielder J.D. Drew from the starting lineup because of "viral symptoms."
Eric Hinske replaced Drew in the starting lineup. Hinske is a left-handed hitter, and Oakland is starting a right-hander (Joe Blanton), so he was the logical choice over Wily Mo Pena, who bats right-handed.
Drew's absence has forced manager Terry Francona to do a little mixing and matching with his batting order. He has moved first baseman Kevin Youkilis down from second to Drew's number five spot and elevated Coco Crisp from eighth to second. Hinske is batting eighth.
Drew has been slumping, his skids at 0 for 11; 1 for 21, and 4 for 31, dropping his average from .375 to a season-low .278. Drew was held out of the starting lineup Sunday in New York to give him two days off in a row, counting Monday's scheduled day off for the team.
Manager Terry Francona admitted this afternoon that it's becoming increasingly difficult for him to keep Alex Cora out of the lineup. Dustin Pedroia is the choice tonight against Oakland, but Francona met with Cora earlier this afternoon to explain his thought process.
``I just wanted him to understand that we're in this for the long haul,'' Francona said. ``Part of my responsibility is to help this kid (Pedroia) get going.''
Look for Cora to start tomorrow.
Francona also continued to be vague about plans for Jon Lester, who starts tomorrow night in Pawtucket.
``My No. 1 responsibility is to (Lester) and his long-term health,'' Francona said. ``You can read into that what you wil.''
More later, and of course, tomorrow morning in theJournal.
The Sox may have had the day off, but not us . . .
MORE DETAILS: The story of Josh Hancock's death continues to unfold. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Hancock was almost involved in another serious crash two days before he died, and that alcohol may have been involved in the first incident. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) In their initial statements police said alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the fatal crash, but the Post-Dispatch quoted eyewitness accounts saying Hancock was drinking to the point of impairment at a restaurant Saturday night prior to the accident. The newspaper also reported Hancock was with ESPN broadcaster Dave Campbell at the restaurant Saturday. Campbell confirmed the report, but said he ''couldn't tell'' if Hancock was inebriated. ''I'm not a toxicologist . . . '' he said.
BRING ME THE HEAD OF . . . DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ?? The man affectionately known hereabouts as Eye Chart -- or at least there was affection hereabouts when he didn't play for the Yankees -- says he knows ''the clock is ticking on me''. (Times Herald-Record)
Blaming Cashman is one thing; after all, he put the team together. But Jeter for not being captainly enough? Mientkiewicz for not hitting, when he's never been a hitter in his life? (And anyone with two eyes should know that scoring runs is not the problem in the Bronx.) Are we in the Twilight Zone? THIS TEAM CAN'T PITCH!! THAT'S THE PROBLEM!! Until they get some of their walking wounded back -- and unless some of them start pitching a lot better than they have been -- what you see is going to be what you get. No matter what kind of leadership Jeter provides.
AH, THE SOLUTION! So, of course, all eyes in Yankee Universe turn back to Roger Clemens. (New York Post) Trouble is, he's not viewing his return with the same sense of urgency as the Yankees.
OR IS IT? SNY.tv's Barry Witterstein raises the unthinkable notion that these Yankees may simply not be very good and says history -- as in, Horace Clarke History -- may be about to repeat itself.
OTHER THAN THAT . . . : FoxSports' Ken Rosenthal has lots of Red Sox and Yankee tidbits in his latest notes column, but the one of particular interest -- and not in a good way -- to local fans concerns Rockies catcher, and Rhode Island native, Chris Ianetta. According to a scout: '"He doesn't receive very well. He doesn't throw very well. He doesn't move very well. And, he has an extremely slow bat.'' (msn.foxsports.com)