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.)