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June 6, 2007
PawSox beat Braves, 5-3.
RICHMOND, Va. -- Abe Alvarez was nearly un-hittable for six plus innings, Brandon Moss and two other PawSox each slugged a home run and Pawtucket kept winning, beating the Richmond Braves 5-3 at The Diamond Wednesday night.
With their fourth win in a row, Pawtucket (25-31) matched their longest winning streak of the season and extended their 11-game winning streak against Richmond that dates back to June of 2005. The four straight road wins are a first this season for the PawSox.
“We have persevered no question,” said PawSox manager Ron Johnson. “We’ve gone through some rough times, we had that couple of week drought when we couldn’t score a run. When that happens you just have to keep at it.”
David Murphy put Pawtucket on the scoreboard in the first, hammering a 1-0 pitch from Richmond starter Kevin Barry over the billboard wall in left field.
The PawSox added two more in the second; one of those runs a towering homer by Moss. The lanky left fielder followed up a 4-RBI performance in Tuesday’s game by going 3-for-4 with the homer and a double. He finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Michael Tucker added another home run off Barry in the PawSox two run third inning.
“Mossy has been pretty consistent all year, Murphy’s been hitting the ball hard, and Michael Tucker is starting to get past his spring training which he didn’t have,” Johnson said. “It’s good to see.”
There was controversy in the bottom of the third inning involving one of the stranger plays of the season. With Moss at third and Jeff Bailey at first, Braves starting pitcher Kevin Barry faked a pick-off throw to third then turned and fired to second, catching Bailey in a run down.
Moss then started toward home to draw the Braves attention away from Bailey. Moss soon found himself caught in the rundown while Bailey meanwhile had sprinted all the way around to third base. Moss somehow got away from the run down and also found himself back at the third base bag.
Moss, figuring that he was out, touched the bag then turned to walk off to the PawSox dugout. Braves catcher Corky Miller tagged Moss for the out. Braves manger Dave Brundage ran onto the field and argued that Bailey should also be out since both he and Moss had occupied the same base. The umpires agreed and called Bailey for the third out, drawing the ire of Johnson.
Johnson argued his case, the umpires huddled again, then reversed the previous call, allowed Bailey back to third and George Kottaras back to the plate with a 1-2 count. Brundage argued again but to no avail. In the end the play was scored as Moss caught stealing 1-4-5-2, Bailey was credited with a stolen base and Kottaras singled on the very next pitch to drive in Bailey for the 5-0 lead.
“I give those guys [umpires] credit because I’m not really locked in on all those [rules] but it just didn’t look right,” said Johnson. “You could just feel it after that. Our guys had a really good feeling after the call went our way. That was a momentum thing.”
Alvarez meanwhile gave the PawSox his strongest performance of the season, scattering three hits over six and two-third innings. The crafty lefty was in control of all three pitches in his off-speed repertoire, allowing just one run while striking out six.
He left the game after being hit by a line drive on his pitching arm. Alvarez and Johnson said it was a slight bruise but they weren’t concerned about it.
--BY BRUCE R. WELLS
Special to the Journal
Posted by Chris Venditto at 10:47 PM to PawSox
Interleague Roster Discussions
When the Red Sox open their interleague road schedule tomorrow in Arizona, manager Terry Francona said he didn't expect to be altering the make-up of his roster relative to the number of position players and pitchers.
In the American League, the Red Sox have four bench players. In the National League parks, they will have five because the DH isn't used and the pitchers will have to hit.
There is the thought that they may have to pinch-hit more often because of the pitcher's spot in the batting order, but there is that extra hitter on the bench. And while Francona said there is always the chance the Sox will leave Arizona saying, "If only we had had another hitter (or pitcher)," there aren't expected to be changes just to account for the N.L. park.
"We're not going to re-do our roster for a three-game series," said Francona.
He did say, though, that a move with the pitching staff may have to be made because Mike Timlin is expected to be activated on Saturday.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 8:59 PM | Permalink
A Late Bloomer
At the age of 37, and in his 13th big-league season as a reliever, Alan Embree has finally been thrust into the closer's role.
It wasn't exactly through any grand plan on the Athletics' part. Indeed, it took injuries to two other pitchers -- Huston Street and Justin Duchscherer -- to prompt manager Bob Geren to turn to Embree for those vital last few outs.
But so far Embree has made the most of his opportunity. Tuesday night the left-hander closed out a 2-0 win for Oakland over Boston, one of his eight former big-league teams. He hasn't been perfect -- he blew a save against the Sox on Monday night -- but he has gone 5 for 6 so far.
"It is weird to be 37 and now getting a chance to do this, even if it is only by default," said Embree. "But it's nice. It's different in a good way, one of the biggest challenges of my career. I'm grateful the manager has the confidence in me to give me this chance."
Embree has pitched as a setup man for several hot closers, notably Trevor Hoffman (San Diego), Keith Foulke (Chicago White Sox, Boston), Jose Mesa (Cleveland), Mark Wohlers (Atlanta), Gregg Olson (Arizona) and Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees). He did have one chance to establish himself as a closer -- in Boston.
"That was the year (2003) Grady (manager Grady Little) decided to go with the closer by committee," said Embree with a grin. "I came into the first game in Tampa, gave up a couple of runs and we lost. I had a sore shoulder, missed some time and the next save chance I had was in September."
Embree had eight career saves (four with Boston) in 708 games in the majors prior to this season.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 8:35 PM | Permalink
The All-Star Dilemma
Some things in life are not fair, and, while it doesn't rank up near the top of any list of world troubles, the balloting for the All-Star Game is one of them.
Kevin Youkilis, who is having an outstanding season, entering tonight's game with a .341 batting average and a 23-game hitting streak on his recent resume, is not even listed on the ballot at first base.
The Sox' representative at first is David Ortiz because there is no slot for a designated hitter on the ballot for the game to be played July 10 at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants.
Ortiz is a runaway voting leader at first base with 775,734 votes in the latest accounting. Ortiz, of course, is having a terrific season as well, batting .332 with 10 homers and 41 RBI.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 8:23 PM | Permalink
Sox Streakers for June 6
Culled from the team's official game notes:
-David Ortiz, six-game hitting streak, during which he is 11 for 25 (.440)
-Dustin Pedroia, 20 for 40 (.500) over 11 games
-Manny Ramirez, 20 for 48 (.417) over 13 games
-Jonathan Papelbon, 11.2 straight scoreless innings on the road
-Tim Wakefield, 1-3 with 9.13 E.R.A. over last four starts
-Coco Crisp, 4 for 26 (.154) over eight games
-J.D. Drew, 4 for 35 (.114) over 10 games
-Eric Hinske, 3 for 37 (.081) over 15 games
-Julio Lugo, 10 for 71 (.141) over 17 games
-Doug Mirabelli, 3 for 35 (.086) over 10 games
Red Sox vs. Joe Kennedy
-Jason Varitek, 7 for 13 (.538)
-Alex Cora, 1 for 2 (.500)
-Manny Ramirez, 9 for 21 (.429), 1 HR
-Doug Mirabelli, 4 for 12 (.333), 1 HR
-David Ortiz, 2 for 7 (.286), 1 HR
-J.D. Drew, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Eric Hinske, 5 for 21 (.238), 1 HR
-Mike Lowell, 3 for 14 (.214)
-Coco Crisp, 4 for 19 (.211)
-Kevin Youkilis, 1 for 7 (.143)
-Julio Lugo, 0 for 1
-Dustin Pedroia and Wily Mo Pena have no at-bats against Kennedy
Athletics vs. Tim Wakefield
-Mark Ellis, 6 for 11 (.545)
-Jack Cust, 2 for 5 (.400)
-Marco Scutaro, 3 for 8 (.375)
-Eric Chavez, 9 for 27 (.333)
-Dan Johnson, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Jason Kendall, 2 for 7 (.286)
-Shannon Stewart, 14 for 52 (.269)
-Mark Kotsay, 4 for 18 (.222), 1 HR
-Milton Bradley, 1 for 10 (.100)
-Bobby Crosby, 0 for 2
-Nick Swisher and Travis Buck have no at-bats against Wakefield
-The Red Sox have lost six straight in Oakland, and seven of eight overall to the Athletics. They've scored a total of eight runs during the six-game McAfee Coliseum losing streak.
-Manny Ramirez on Sunday became the 18th player in major league history with 450 doubles and 450 home runs.
-Boston's three-game losing streak is its longest since Sept. 23-25, 2006.
-The Red Sox have been shut out four times this season, the same number as the White Sox and the Athletics; only the Twins have been shut out more frequently (five) among American League teams.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 8:11 PM to Projo Sox Streakers
The annual draft of free agents will take place tomorrow.
The Red Sox do not have a pick in the first round, having forfeited that selection to the Los Angeles Dodgers for signing ex-Dodger Julio Lugo as a free agent in the offseason.
Boston, though, does have two "sandwich" picks between the first and second rounds because the Red Sox lost free agents to Cincinnati (Alex Gonzalez) and Cleveland (Keith Foulke). Boston's first two picks will be the 55th and 62nd selections overall.
There will be some interest in Oakland as the draft is going on, though, because Beau Mills, the son of Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, is projected to go at some point in the first round. The Athletics have provided a suite for the Mills family, which lives in Visalia, about 150 miles from the McAfee Coliseum where Boston will be playing Oakland.
Game time is 12:35 locally, about an hour and a half after the draft begins. Manager Terry Francona, who has been friends with Mills for a long time and has seen Beau grow up, is hoping Beau goes early enough that Brad can celebrate with his son and the rest of the family in the suite before assuming his duties on the Red Sox bench.
"It's a win-win situation (for the Mills family)," said Francona
"Beau is going to get drafted; he'll be able to play pro ball, which is what he wants to do, and he'll probably get a lot of money, which is sure to make Millsy (Brad) happy because he's as tight (with a dollar) as (can be)," joked Francona.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 8:09 PM | Permalink
J.D. Drew on the bench
For the second straight game, J.D. Drew will watch the action from the bench, at least at the start.
The struggling right fielder was held out of the starting lineup for several reasons by manager Terry Francona.
One of the reasons is that the Red Sox are facing a left-handed starter for the second consecutive game, in this case Joe Kennedy, who has been tough on left-handed hitters (.122 batting average against for the season, 2-for-31 his last six starts). Drew, a left-handed hitter, is batting .227 against lefties and .224 overall.
Francona also said that Wily Mo Pena, who again was replacing Drew in right field, has been taking some good hacks recently, another reason to give Drew an extra day to work with hitting coach Dave Magadan and regroup mentally.
Drew, who missed a few games last week because of a tight right hamstring, is expected to be back in the lineup tomorrow after a quick turnaround, in a game that will start at 12:35 p.m. locally.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 7:58 PM | Permalink
Starting Lineups -- June 6
The starting lineups for June 6 in Oakland
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 7:54 PM | Permalink
Manny, the players' choice
The Sporting News today releases its "players' choice" lists, in which major leaguers rank their top five in a variety of categories.
Interesting to note that Todd Jones, the Detroit closer who once pitched for the Red Sox, considers Manny Ramirez the second smartest hitter in the American League (behind Derek Jeter), while St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols ranks Ramirez number one for "best right-handed swings."
Here's Jones' comment on Ramirez: "Manny is known for sitting on a pitch for one at-bat, two at-bats or an entire game. So when the pitch he's waiting on comes, he's ready."
And Pujols: "I know he's not hitting this year, but hey, neither am I."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:46 PM to Projo Mannybeingmanny
Lots more Sox stuff on the Sports Blog
Art Martone today held his second projo Sports Chat. The Red Sox were a big-time topic of conversation. Click here to see the transcript, on the projo Sports Blog.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:11 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Stung by another soft-thrower
The day after an ugly Red Sox loss, Sean McAdam joins projo.com sports producer Mike McDermott for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean tries to explain how Lenny DiNardo could have shut down the Red Sox' offense. Other topics of conversation: Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew and Tim Wakefield.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On the loss to DiNardo: "Last night continued sort of a season-long trend with [the Red Sox] having difficulty with soft-throwing left-handers, even ones who were teammates for a couple of years, in this case Lenny DiNardo. If you go back and look at it, it seems like -- in the mind's eye anyway -- that about half their losses have come against those kinds of guys. And really it doesn't make a lot of sense; there are enough good right-handed hitters on that team -- from Manny Ramirez to Kevin Youkilis to Mike Lowell -- and switch-hitters, like Jason Varitek, who are actually hitting better from the right side. But for whatever reason, lefties throwing junk at them seems to really tie them up."
On struggling Wakefield, tonight's starter: "I know that [pitching coach] John Farrell and he have been looking at some tapes to see if there are any mechanical issues. He said he didn't feel comfortable throwing out of the stretch against the Yankees, so I'm guessing they've worked on that on the side and we'll see if they can't make some fine-tuning."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:38 AM to McAdam
Lowell Spinners take Yankee obsession to new heights
LOWELL. Mass. (AP) - The Lowell Spinners don't even have a first baseman yet, but they have already acquired a fairly famous first base from Yankee Stadium.
The team, a minor-league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, announced Tuesday it has purchased - and plans to use - the first base used at Yankee Stadium in Game 6 of the 2004 American League championship series.
In the game, New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez was called for interference after slapping the ball away from Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo in a crucial play at first. Boston went on to win the series in seven games and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series to end an 86-year championship drought.
The Single-A Spinners said the base would be put to use in the upcoming New York-Penn League season.
"The Slap was a defining moment of the ALCS," Spinners general manager Tim Bawmann said. "It's a privilege for the Lowell Spinners to present this piece of Red Sox history to our fans as an interactive exhibit during Spinners games."
A Spinners spokesman declined to say how much the team paid for the base, except to say that it was significant. Bawmann said he was not worried about using the valuable artifact.
"As every baseball fan knows," he said, "you can't steal first base."
A short-season farm club populated largely with recent draft picks, Lowell has sold out every game since Aug. 2, 1999, thanks in part to promotions like a Jack Kerouac bobble-head, the world's largest game of "Duck, Duck, Goose," and "Birth Night," in which pregnant women competed for a year's supply of diapers.
Over the past two years, the Spinners have donated more than $40,000 worth of equipment to local youth leagues willing to name teams after the Lowell club instead of the Yankees.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:58 AM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Wednesday, June 6
BLAH: For the first time all season, the Red Sox have hit a dip in the road. Last night's 2-0 loss in Oakland was their third straight defeat -- the first time all year they've lost three in a row -- and fifth in their last six games. (projo.com) The winning pitcher was ex-Sox reliever Lenny DiNardo, who insists he has nothing but good memories of his time in Boston and feels no special vindication in beating his former team. (Boston Globe) ''I have no hard feelings whatsoever,'' he said.
The Sox' A.L. East lead is back into single digits thanks to a miraculous comeback win by the Blue Jays over the Devil Rays. (Toronto Globe and Mail) But before anyone starts worrying, take heart in this absolutely bravura performance by Matt Damon on The Late Show With David Letterman: