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)