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June 7, 2007
Game Story: Schilling just misses no-hitter in 1-0 victory
OAKLAND – He shook him off.
Curt Schilling, one out away from his first career no-hitter, stared in for the sign from catcher Jason Varitek, didn’t like what he saw and gave a little shake of his head, prompting Varitek to change the pitch selection.
Varitek wanted Schilling to throw a first-pitch slider to Oakland’s Shannon Stewart with two outs in the ninth and the Red Sox fans in the crowd of 31,211 at McAfee Coliseum on their feet, roaring in anticipation of seeing Boston’s ace complete his gem.
Schilling, though, wanted to throw a fastball.
So he threw a 95-mile-an-hour heater on the outside corner, and Stewart ripped it through the right side of the infield for a clean single, past second baseman Alex Cora, whose futile dive came up about 10 feet short.
The lost no-hitter, though, didn’t cloud Schilling’s focus. He bore down, retiring Mark Ellis on a foul popup to Cora, pitching Boston past the Athletics, 1-0, in a much needed victory for the Red Sox, who had lost four in a row and six of seven.
“I was so focused that we needed the win. It was only a 1-0 game. Once that ball got through, that (the no-hit bid) was over. I didn’t want something (the win) to slip away that shouldn’t,” said Schilling, whose offensive support was David Ortiz’s homer in the first off Oakland starter Joe Blanton.
His teammates were left feeling a sense of triumph and loss.
“I think (Eric) Hinske said it best,” said third baseman Mike Lowell. “He said, ‘I’ve never seen our pitcher throw a one-hit shutout for a 1-0 win and we’re all disappointed.’ But we really needed Curt’s ‘A’ game today and he gave it to us.”
Schilling, who had two one-hitters on his resume prior to yesterday, thought he was going to do it this time.
His command wasn’t particularly great in the early going, and his velocity on his fastball was in the 88-90 range for the most part. He was getting outs, but he wasn’t exactly blowing everyone away.
But when center fielder Coco Crisp ran down Mark Kotsay’s first-pitch drive to straightaway center in the sixth, hauling the ball in over his left shoulder as he angled away from the infield, about 398 feet from home plate and about two feet in front of fence, Schilling could feel no-hit immortality.
As the game went along, his command got sharper with all of his pitches. And by the ninth inning, his adrenalin was helping him add velocity to his fastball.
Schilling threw four fastballs to Kotsay, leading off the ninth – one at 93, two at 94 and one at 95. Kotsay grounded out to shortstop Julio Lugo, whose error on a routine grounder by slow-footed Dan Johnson in the fifth kept Schilling from a perfect-game bid into the ninth.
Jason Kendall was next. He saw fastballs of 93, 91 and 95 miles an hours, grounding out to Lugo on the last one.
Then came Stewart.
“I shook off the slider,” admitted Schilling. “I had a plan. I shook off Tek. He thought he’d be first-pitch swinging. I thought he’d be first-pitch taking. I shook him off maybe 5-10 times all game – one time too many.”
It was a case of déjà vu for Varitek. On Aug. 29, 2000, Pedro Martinez was working on a no-hitter into the ninth. He shook off Varitek’s suggestion to throw a first-pitch curve to John Flaherty. He threw a fastball, and Flaherty ripped it for a single, ending that no-hit bid.
“Yeah, that happened (with Martinez),” said Varitek, the team captain, with a wry smile. “I thought (Stewart) would be swinging at the first pitch and we had thrown all fastballs (in the inning). He did a good job of hitting. Curt made a quality pitch. If you make a quality pitch like that you can’t be second-guessed.”
As the ball left the bat, the Sox were hopeful it would find its way to Cora. He gave it the good effort, but didn’t come close.
“I dove, but I had no chance,” said Cora. “That was a nice piece of hitting. You have to tip your hat.”
After the no-hitter was gone, and after the victory was secured, third baseman Mike Lowell had a question for Schilling.
“How do you shake off your captain?” said a smiling Lowell. “Then we got all over (infield coach) Luis Alicea for positioning Cora wrong.”
Schilling, meanwhile, seemed to take it all in stride, satisfied, at least, that he had fulfilled his role as the team’s ace, putting an end to the Sox’ skid. Still, it was one that got away, and these opportunities don’t come along that often. His one-hitters came with the Phillies against the Mets on Sept. 7, 1992, and with the Diamondbacks against Milwaukee on April 7, 2002, in Milwaukee.
“I felt I got better as the game went along. My velocity picked up and my pitches got sharper.,” said Schilling.
Schilling said he was aware he had a no-hitter brewing after the first inning, and reminded his teammates to look for the bunt.
“When it got into the seventh, eighth and ninth, it was only a 1-0 game. They (the Athletics) know how to play small ball. They know how to play the game. I was certainly ready (for a bunt),” he said.
The bunt never came, and Stewart’s hit ruined the no-hitter, but the Red Sox had the important win.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 7:28 PM | Permalink
| Comments 1
Krasner sidebar: More Schilling reaction
OAKLAND – As the Boston Red Sox’ designated hitter, David Ortiz obviously does not play in the field. So there are times when he’ll go back into the clubhouse and get loose for his next at-bat.
So, believe this if you will, Ortiz said he had no idea Curt Schilling was pitching a no-hitter until the ninth.
“After the first out of the ninth, that’s when I found out,” insisted Ortiz. “It’s a good thing I found out then because I get nervous. (Infield coach Luis) Alicea said some things to me (about the no-hitter), messing with me. I looked up at the scoreboard and saw all those zeroes and then I saw the zero under the ‘H’ (the hits column).
“That’s when I looked over (at everyone in the dugout) and they said, ‘shhh,’ ” said Ortiz, putting his index finger over his lips in demonstration of the Sox’ signal for superstitious silence.
Some of Ortiz’s teammates had a hard time believing their DH, who authored the only run of the game, a homer to right with two outs in the first inning against Oakland starter Joe Blanton.
“How many people were in the stadium, 30-something thousand (31,211)?” asked second baseman Alex Cora with a smile. “There are 25 (Oakland players) and 24 (Red Sox players).He was the only guy not watching the game.”
While Ortiz’s concentration may have been on other things, the rest of his teammates and coaching staff were well aware that Schilling was working on a gem, a stab at baseball immortality that slipped away on Shannon Stewart’s clean line-drive single through the right side with two outs in the ninth in the Red Sox’ 1-0 victory over the Athletics at McAfee Coliseum.
“It was pretty exciting, especially when there were two outs in the ninth,” said third baseman Mike Lowell.
It was not the first time Lowell had been on the field for a no-hitter. He was playing third for the Marlins when A.J. Burnett tossed one in San Diego, but he walked nine in his messy no-hitter.
“There were baserunners every inning. That wasn’t as exciting,” said Lowell.
As a third baseman, Lowell was very aware that the Athletics might try to drop down a bunt. So he found himself creeping in closer than normal at times, just in case.
“You’re not going to let them get a cheap one,” said Lowell. “They were going to have to hit their way on. But in a situation like this, if they hit you the ball, you want it to be a routine play.”
Lowell helped keep the no-hitter intact by getting in front of a tough bouncer hit by Mark Ellis in the seventh. The ball clanged off his glove and fell to the ground near him. He recovered in time to pick up the ball and throw out Ellis.
“On a play like that, in that situation, you want to get in front of everything. If it bounces away, I’ll swallow that error. You don’t want to make errors, but with a no-hitter going, you’ll take it. If I went to the backhand, it’s a tougher play. If the ball gets past me it’s a double and it was only a 1-0 game,” said Lowell.
The other members of the Sox’ infield – Kevin Youkilis, Julio Lugo and Cora – said they tried not to get caught up in the drama surrounding the game as it went along.
“You don’t feel any pressure. It’s exciting to be out there behind him, but you just want to make the play,” said Lugo, the shortstop, whose error on a routine grounder in the fifth cost Schilling a chance for a perfect game heading into the ninth.
“You’re just trying to make plays to win a ballgame,” said Youkilis, the first baseman.
“You feel calm,” added Cora. “He (Schilling) sets the tempo. You look at him and he’s pitching such a great game. This game just flew (two hours, 10 minutes), I’ll tell you that.”
There was, of course, the feeling of helplessness when Stewart’s ball sailed past him.
“I had no chance,” said Cora.
Nor did the Athletics, as Schilling’s command and velocity improved as the game went along. His biggest help came from center fielder Coco Crisp, who ran down mark Kotsay’s drive to dead center a couple of feet in front of the 400-foot marker in the sixth.
Crisp politely but firmly refused to comment on yesterday’s game, but bench coach Brad Mills, thrust into the role of postgame spokesman by manager Terry Francona so he could bask in a day that included the first-round drafting of his son, Beau Mills, had plenty to say.
“Obviously it was a great day for me personally, and then to have Schill throw the way he did,” said Mills, who was part of Francona’s staff in Philadelphia when Schilling pitched there.
“That was almost turning back the clock a bit the way he threw today,” said Mills. “At least it was a clean hit. But Schill is a great stopper, the number one guy in the rotation and he came through for us when we really needed him.”
Even if he did fall one out shy of his first career no-hitter.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 7:05 PM | Permalink
Red Sox/Athletics notebook
OAKLAND – The Red Sox’ Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis outsmarted themselves in the eighth inning.
With Youkilis on first and one out, the Athletics put the shift on Ortiz, sending third baseman Eric Chavez over to shortstop, shading the second-base bag, and pulling shortstop Marco Scutaro over on the right-field side of the base.
Ortiz faked a bunt on the first pitch from left-hander Ron Flores and took it for a ball. He bunted the second pitch, but right out in front of the plate, where it was pounced on by catcher Jason Kendall.
Kendall threw to second base, where Chavez was moving to cover the base. But he messed up the footwork and missed the bag as the throw sailed a bit to the right-field side of the base.
Youkilis slid in safely and, realizing no one was covering third base because of the shift, he popped up quickly and headed for third. But Scutaro hadn’t fallen asleep. He also started racing to third, and he had a step or two on Youkilis.
Chavez threw to Scutaro who tagged out Youkilis about 20 feet from the third for the rally-killing out.
“I was thinking about scoring more runs,” said Ortiz of his decision to bunt. “I thought if I get on we have first and second and Manny up.”
He was surprised to see Youkilis, not known for having blazing speed, try for third.
“I asked him, ‘What were you thinking, that you’re Coco Crisp?” joked Ortiz, referring to the Sox’ fastest runner.
Ortiz stuck to his more prominent role as a power hitter in the first, delivering the only run of the game, on a homer to right off Joe Blanton on a 3-and-2 pitch.
“It was a changeup he left up,” said Ortiz, who hit two home runs in the series after having gone 19 games without a homer.
Ramirez only went 1 for 4 yesterday, but rockets have been leaving his bat the last two weeks or so.
He scalded a single to center in his first at-bat and was retired on a sizzling liner to right in his second at-bat. Ramirez is batting .431 (22 for 51) over his last 14 games with eight doubles and one triple over that stretch. Surprisingly, despite his obvious comfort at the plate, he has not hit a homer in this stretch and is stuck on only seven over his first 219 at-bats this season.
Mike Lowell was given an extra out in his second-inning at-bat when Kendall lost a battle with the bright sun and dropped the Sox’ third baseman’s foul popup behind the plate. But Lowell wasn’t able to take advantage of it. He grounded out to third.
It was not the best of series at the plate for Lowell. He went 0 for 4 yesterday, and was just 1 for 13 in the series, dropping his average from .333 to .317.
Francona said when this trip began that he was planning to give every player a rest here and there.
Yesterday it was Dustin Pedroia's turn to sit out. The second baseman was replaced by Alex Cora in the starting lineup.
“I know he (Pedroia) is young, but he hits a lot (extra batting practice) and I think this helps. Playing AC always seems to help us win, so this just makes sense to me,” said Francona before the game.
Pedroia, whose hitting streak came to an end at 14 games when he went 0 for 1 on Tuesday night, was hitless in four at-bats Wednesday night. He's batting .319.
Beau Mills, son of Boston bench coach Brad Mills, was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the first-year player draft. Beau was the 13th pick overall . . . The victory snapped the Sox’ seven-game losing streak in Oakland . . . Boston will open a three-game series in Arizona against the Diamondbacks tonight. The most intriguing pitching matchup will be Sunday, when Daisuke Matsuzaka opposes Randy Johnson.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 6:47 PM | Permalink
The last two times the Red Sox had a pitcher lose a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning -- Billy Rohr in 1967 and Rick Wise in 1975 -- they won the pennant in those seasons and advanced to the World Series.
Posted by Art Martone at 6:35 PM | Permalink
| Comments 4
More on Schilling / Photo
Schilling pumps his fist after recording the last out in the ninth inning.
Some quick notes about Curt Schilling's one-hitter today against the Oakland A's:
-- He is the eighth Red Sox pitcher since 1967 to lose a no-hitter in the ninth inning. The others: Pedro Martinez (Aug. 29, 2000 at Tampa Bay); Frank Viola (Sept. 30, 1992 at Toronto); Bob Ojeda (Sept. 12, 1981 at N.Y. Yankees); Steve Renko (July 13, 1979 at Oakland); Rick Wise (July 2, 1975 at Milwaukee); Marty Pattin (July 11, 1972 at Oakland), and Billy Rohr (April 14, 1967 at N.Y. Yankees).
-- He's the third Sox pitcher to lose one with two outs.
-- He's the third one to lose it in Oakland.
-- This was the third one-hitter of his career. The others came on April 7, 2002 at Milwaukee while he was pitching for the Diamondbacks, and Sept. 9, 1992 in Philadelphia against the Mets while he was pitching for the Phillies.
-- On the hit that broke up the no-hitter -- the two-out, ground single to right field by Shannon Stewart with two outs in the ninth -- catcher Jason Varitek called for a slider. But Schilling shook him off and threw a fastball.
-- At right, he gets ready to congratulate Varitek after the game was complete. (AP Photo)
-- More to come from Steven Krasner in Oakland.
Posted by Art Martone at 6:24 PM | Permalink
Schilling loses no-hitter with two outs in 9th; Sox win, 1-0
The Oakland Athletics' Shannon Stewart hit the first pitch he saw from Curt Schilling into right field for a single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth this afternoon, breaking up Schilling's no-hit bid.
The Red Sox won the game, defeating the A's 1-0 and snapping their four-game losing streak.
More to come . . .
Posted by Art Martone at 5:50 PM | Permalink
Beau Mills Gets Drafted
Beau Mills, son of Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, was just selected by the Cleveland Indians in the first round of MLB's annual draft.
Mills was the 13th choice overall. He and his family, which is from Visalia, Calif., about 150 miles from Oakland's McAfee Coliseum, was in a private suite at the stadium watching the draft on ESPN2.
Brad Mills was with the family, participating at least briefly in the family celebration before heading back down to the field for the first pitch, about 15 minutes after Beau's selection was announced.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 3:25 PM | Permalink
Sox Streakers: Special 'We can't beat Oakland' edition
These sorry stats are mostly culled from the team's official game notes.
-David Ortiz, seven-game hitting streak, during which he is 12 for 28 (.429)
-Manny Ramirez, 22 for 51 (.431) over his last 14 games
-Alex Cora, 5 for 36 (.139) over his last 11 games
-Coco Crisp, 0 for his last 8, and 4 for 29 (.138) over his last nine games
-J.D. Drew, 4 for 35 (.114) over his last 11 games
-Julio Lugo, 10 for 75 (.133) over his last 18 games
Red Sox vs. Joe Blanton
-Manny Ramirez, 4 for 6 (.667)
-David Ortiz, 3 for 8 (.375)
-Julio Lugo, 5 for 14 (.357)
-J.D. Drew, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Coco Crisp, 2 for 9 (.222)
-Jason Varitek, 2 for 9 (.222)
-Mike Lowell, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Kevin Youkilis, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Alex Cora has no at-bats against Blanton
-Blanton is 2-0 with a 3.10 E.R.A. against the Red Sox in his career
Athletics vs. Curt Schilling
-Jack Cust, 1 for 1 (1.000)
-Mark Ellis, 5 for 14 (.357), 1 HR
-Marco Scutaro, 3 for 9 (.333)
-Jason Kendall, 21 for 68 (.309), 3 HR
-Mark Kotsay, 22 for 73 (.301)
-Dan Johnson, 1 for 5 (.200), 1 HR
-Nick Swisher, 2 for 11 (.182)
-Shannon Stewart, 1 for 7 (.143)
-Eric Chavez, 1 for 17 (.059)
-Schilling is 3-3 with a 3.61 E.R.A. against Oakland for his career.
-The Red Sox have lost seven straight games in Oakland, scoring 10 runs during the streak and batting .203. It's their longest losing streak at McAfee Coliseum since 1987-88. They've lost eight of nine overall to the Athletics.
-Boston's four-game losing streak is its longest since August 2006, when the team had a six-game skid that included three losses in Oakland.
-The last time the Red Sox lost four straight to the Athletics was Aug. 10-12, 1971, at Fenway Park. They have never lost four straight in Oakland.
-Jonathan Papelbon has a save against every major league team he has faced -- except the Athletics. He has a 3.60 E.R.A. against the Athletics, higher than against any other team except Kansas City and Detroit.
-Mark Ellis, a .269 career hitter, bats .330 against the Red Sox
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:14 PM to Projo Sox Streakers
Upon further review . . .
David Ortiz said after last night's loss that the Red Sox seemed to have lost their intensity after a tough game with the Yankees at home on Sunday night and then a cross-country flight.
He made those comments after last night's 3-2 loss, which was Boston's third in a row on this trip.
Manager Terry Francona was told of the remarks. He didn't agree with them, he said this morning, nor did he put much stock in them.
"I think we've had energy," said Francona. "We've just hit into too many double plays (eight over the last two games, seven on ground balls). It's hard to look energetic when you're making right turns (and heading back to the dugout after an out has been made). You could sprint back to the dugout, but that doesn't help.
"I don't think there has been a lack of intensity. There's some frustration. I think if David had time to think it through . . . he was maybe trying to say the right thing and not having it come out the way he wanted. I don't put a lot of credence into what people say five minutes after a game, maybe trying to give you guys (the media) a quote on the way to the shower," he said.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:52 PM | Permalink
A rest for Pedroia
Manager Terry Francona said when this trip began that he was planning to give every player a rest here and there.
Today, it's Dustin Pedroia's turn to sit out, at least at the start. The second baseman is being replaced by Alex Cora in the starting lineup.
"I know he (Pedroia) is young, but he hits a lot (extra batting practice) and I think this helps. Playing AC always seems to help us win, so this just makes sense to me," said Francona a short time ago in his daily media briefing.
Pedroia, whose hitting streak came to an end at 14 games when he went 0 for 1 on Tuesday night, was hitless in four at-bats last night. He's batting .319.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:46 PM | Permalink
Starting Lineups, June 7
The starting lineups for June 7
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:43 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: MLB Draft preview
Sean McAdam is today's guest on projo SoxTalk with Art Martone. Click here to listen to the full audio file. He talks about the Red Sox' needs in today's MLB Draft, and also tries to put the the Red Sox' West Coast struggles into perspective.
On the losing streak: "I think it shows that this is not a great offensive team, at least not as the parts are currently performing, but I think we probably knew that a little bit. It seems unlikely that this is going to be a 900-run team the way they were from 2003 through 2005, and it's really sort of manifested itself the past few nights. ... I would say that it would be more alarming if their pitching were getting hit, but because it seems to be offensive-related, I think you can more easily write it off as the inevitable cold spot that this batting order seems bound to run into."
On where the Red Sox will be looking in the Draft: "Theo [Epstein] did say that even though they have restocked their inventory of young arms a lot in the last few years, with people like Buchholz and Bowden and others, that really you have to take as much pitching almost, or more pitching than you think you'll ever need, because you draft 10 of these guys and about two or three end up getting to the big leagues."
There's a lot more from Sean, on the Draft, in particular, so be sure to check out the audio.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:46 AM to Martone
Tavarez, Yankee fans get acquainted
Here's some interesting footage from YouTube of some Yankee fans making Julian Tavarez laugh a couple of weeks ago in the Bronx. One of them eventually requests that Tavarez hit Jason Giambi in the head and "knock the steroids out of him."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:23 AM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Thursday, June 7
|TOLD YA: Everybody said it, but nobody really believed it. Everyone said the Red Sox couldn't maintain the scorching pace they'd set over the first two months of the season, and everyone said there'd be tough times ahead, and everyone said it was inevitable that the team would hit a rough patch. But, human nature being what it is, in their hearts everyone really expected the good times to roll and roll and roll.
Well, they've stopped rolling and last night's 3-2 loss -- which the Red Sox variously attributed to bad bounces, bad calls and a bad travel schedule -- was their fourth in a row and sixth in their last seven games. The Sox stress staying on an even keel over the long haul, and most times they're able to do just that, but last night's exchanges with plate umpire Dan Iassonga (one of which led to Terry Francona's ejection, right) could be a sign that frustration is setting in. (All stories projo.com)
The A's, of course, think the notion of sweeping the Sox -- which can be accomplished with a victory in this afternoon's series finale (first pitch 3:35 EDT) -- would be sweet
, or at least their fans do (San Francisco Chronicle blog); the players see the results of the first three games of the series as stemming not so much from Boston's struggles but from their superior play
. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Fact is, there's truth on both sides. But the great thing about baseball is, there's always a game coming up, giving you a chance to turn things around. Today's shot for the Sox comes in about eight hours. Come back and follow it with us here.
STAR-GAZING: Latest odds on Red Sox pitchers making the All-Star team: Josh Beckett si (Boston Herald), Daisuke Matsuzaka no (Boston Globe).
EL GUAPO! Rich Garces is still mowing 'em down -- though he's doing it for the Nashua Pride these days -- and is the subject of a profile from SI.com's Joe Lemire. Lemire says he's listed at his "Red Sox weight'' of 240 pounds ''though it looks like it could be a dozen pounds or so heavier,'' and Garces metaphorically throws up his hands in frustration at his ongoing battle of the bulge. (''I'm a big guy, what can I do? All my family is like that. If I drink one bottle of water, it's like five pounds to me.'')
YOUR SERVE, CURT: In a column on ''dangerous moron Gary Sheffield'', espn.com's Jeff Pearlman lumps Curt Schilling into a group with Sheffield, John Rocker, David Wells and Barry Bonds, people he says ''equate volume with veracity''. Interesting to see if G38 responds.
STEP UP: Bud Selig all but orders Jason Giambi to discuss his steroid use. Mike Lupica says it's time for Giambi ''to actually be the stand-up guy he likes to think he is''. Giambi's teammates, however, are in his corner. (All stories New York Daily News)
THE BROKEN CLOCK THEORY: Sometimes Ozzie Guillen's outspokenness is right on, says the Chicago Sun-Times' Greg Couch. Like now, when he talks about baseball's steoids investigation.
STIRRINGS: The Yankees won again at Chicago, making it five of out six. (New York Post) Could it be . . . ?
GET REAL: Writing on YES.com, Phil Pepe says ''Catching the Red Sox for a 10th consecutive American League East championship is still as remote as Uranus, and even reaching the postseason as a Wild Card, while still possible, remains far-fetched because to do so, the Yankees will have to leap-frog over seven teams.''
STAY-AT-HOME ROD: Alex and Cynthia Rodriguez were the picture of wedded bliss on the streets of Chicago, at least until photographers got too close. (New York Daily News)
BE LIKE LOU: The Times Herald-Record's Michael P. Geffner thinks the Yankees need the kind of fire Lou Piniella has.
AND LIKE THE CUBS: Who are beginning to stir in the N.L. Central. (Chicago Sun-Times)
TEARS IN MY CLUBHOUSE: Not only did Carlos Zambrano finally apologize for his fight last week with Michael Barrett, but he cried while doing it. (Chicago Sun-Times)
LET'S GO TO THE NUMBERS: SNY.tv's Michael Salfino says the Mets are winning with defense, and he has the statistics to prove it. He also takes a shot at Derek Jeter, which should cheer Red Sox fans during these dark times.
MINORITY OPINION: Ex-A's pitcher Dave Stewart thinks it's great that Barry Bonds will be breaking Hank Aaron's home-run record. (Sports Action Daily)
END OF THE LINE? It may be for long-time big leaguer Steve Finley, who was let go by the Rockies. (Denver Post)
DO SO, DO SO: Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi fires back at critics who say doesn't have a good draft record since he took over. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
OLD FRIENDS: Shea Hillenbrand is out of a job -- or at least out the starting lineup -- in Anaheim (Los Angeles Times) . . . It's a new year for Bronson Arroyo in Cincinnati, and we don't mean that in a good way (Cincinnati Enquirer).
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:10 AM | Permalink
Late Red Sox Notes
BY STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
Testy exchanges at home plate
The Red Sox had a couple of arguments with plate umpire Dan Iassogna last night.
David Ortiz was the first to bark at Iassogna. He was called out on what appeared on replays to be a checked-swing on a 3-and-2 pitch with two outs and none on in the sixth. In the eighth, manager Terry Francona was ejected after, he said, gesturing from the Sox' dugout that the 1-and-0 pitch, which Iassogna called a strike, was high.
Ortiz came close to making contact with Iassogna as he spun around in surprise that he had been called out on strikes. Had he done so, he might be looking at a suspension.
''I'm just taller than he is,'' said Ortiz with a smile, adding that's why it may have looked like he was close to bumping the umpire.
''I did my complaining and it didn't matter. But at least he didn't turn his back. Sometimes (umpires) do that, like it doesn't matter what you say. He faced me to hear what I said and then that's it,'' said Ortiz.
Francona raced out to protect Ortiz, making sure it didn't escalate into an ejection of his designated hitter. He motioned as if he wanted Iassogna to check with third-base umpire Paul Emmel to see if Ortiz had gone around, but that didn't happen.
''Once he makes the call, why would he ask (the third-base umpire)?'' said Francona. ''He made (the call). (But) I don't think the plate umpire can err in asking for help.''
Francona bolted out of the Sox' dugout again in the eighth after he got thumbed for the first time this season. As he got to Iassogna, he was as steamed as he has been since taking over the team. He yanked out a wad of gum and fired it on the ground, away from Iassogna, and the duo had a heated exchange.
After seeing the replay, Francona said the pitch wasn't as bad as he thought.
''I gestured that the pitch was up. That doesn't matter. That's not the game. It's not good for my blood pressure, but it didn't affect the outcome,'' said Francona after the 3-2 loss.
Starter Tim Wakefield wasn't a happy camper when he was lifted in the seventh with two on and two outs.
He wasn't upset that Francona was taking him out. But he was irritated that with two out and none on, Mark Ellis, who had struck out in each of his three previous at-bats, stuck his shoulder and left arm into a soft inside curveball, earning himself a base for being hit by the pitch.
Wakefield didn't think Ellis had made an attempt to get out of the way, and, indeed, had leaned into the pitch. But Iassogna wans't buying the argument.
Here and there
The Sox have grounded into seven double plays (Coco Crisp, the fastest runner on the team, has hit into three; Mike Lowell, one of the slowest, has hit into two) over the last two games, the most in a two-game span since they grounded into seven in a doubleheader against Kansas City on Aug. 12, 1986 . . . Wakefield whiffed a season-high eight . . . The loss for Wakefield was his first against Oakland since Aug. 6, 2002, at Fenway Park, a span of six starts . . .The Sox' four-game losing streak is their longest since dropping six in a row Aug. 25-30, 2006 . . . The Athletics swiped four bases against Wakefield and catcher Doug Mirabelli . . . Oakland was 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position before Jack Cust and Bobby Crosby delivered back-to-back hits in the fourth, producing the Athletics' three runs . . . Mirabelli, who was in a 3-for-35 drought, went 2 for 3, his fourth multiple-hit game of the year and first since April 23.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:41 AM | Permalink
Oakland 3, Boston 2, June 6
By STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
OAKLAND – A bad bounce. A couple of bad calls, at least in Boston’s initial point of view. That’s what left a bad taste in the Red Sox’ mouths as they suffered a 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum last night.
Throw in a bad travel schedule, and suddenly the Red Sox are looking more mortal than they did a week or so ago, not to mention a tad frustrated. That frustration led to a pair of spirited arguments last night with plate umpire Dan Iassogna, who ejected Boston manager Terry Francona in the eighth.
Last night’s setback extended Boston’s season-worst losing streak to four games, and to six losses in the last seven games overall. The Red Sox still lead the American League East by nine games over Toronto, but they haven’t been able to stay out of double plays in Oakland nor have they been able to catch many breaks.
“We ain’t going to be hitting on all cylinders all year. If we did, we’d be the first team in history to do that,” said closer Jonathan Papelbon, who has had only three save chances since May 6.
Designated hitter David Ortiz says he thinks at least part of the reason for the skid can be traced back to the team’s difficult travel schedule.
Boston and New York played a typically intense three-game set at Fenway Park last weekend. That series culminated in a four-hour game on national television Sunday night (the Sox lost), ending a little after midnight and immediately followed by a cross-country flight and a 5:30 a.m. check-in time in their San Francisco hotel on Monday.
Boston has dropped three in a row in Oakland since, scoring only six runs in 29 innings, including a 5-4 11-inning loss on Monday night.
“It seems like everything changed after the travel we had to do (to get) here,” said Ortiz. “The intensity. The little stuff. It’s not there. It’s a different feeling. We don’t have the intensity we normally have. That’s my view. A lot of guys are trying, but it’s not coming together. We have to come back and figure it out.”
Kevin Youkilis, who could only watch helplessly as Eric Chavez’s routine bouncer in the fourth kicked off the first-base bag and bounced over his head, sparking Oakland’s three-run flurry against starter Tim Wakefield, agreed that the difficult travel hasn’t done this team any favors. But it’s not the only reason for the slide.
“I’m not saying that’s the reason we haven’t played well. We haven’t hit well. We haven’t played well. The ball hasn’t hopped our way the last couple of days. West Coast. East Coast. We have to hit and play better baseball,” he said.
The Sox’ frustrations began piling up in the early going when Boston hitters kept banging into double plays. Chavez, the Athletics’ third baseman, started double plays in the second, fourth and fifth innings, backing a solid start by left-hander Joe Kennedy (seven innings, two runs).
That made it seven double plays grounded into by the Red Sox in a two-game stretch, and eight double plays overall, including a soft liner by Ortiz that was turned into a twin killing on Tuesday night.
“Some of it is they’ve been making (good) pitches in certain counts, and sometimes we’ve gotten a little anxious and roller over,” said Francona, trying to explain the rash of DPs. “They are making (good) pitches and that has kept them out of trouble.”
Wakefield, meanwhile, was in trouble in only one inning, the fourth. The knuckleballer, who had been 1-3 with a 9.13 earned-run average in his previous four starts, worked 6 2/3 innings last night.
He was matching Kennedy zero for zero until the fourth, when Chavez’s bouncer, which seemed to be an easy out, hit the bag and jumped into right field for a double. Instead of two outs and nobody on, Chavez was at second with one out.
Chavez went to third on a wild pitch, but stayed there on Dan Johnson’s bouncer to a drawn-in second baseman Dustin Pedroia. But Jack Cust ripped an RBI double to right and Bobby Crosby rifled a 1-and-2 pitch to left-center for a two-run single and a 3-0 Oakland lead.
Wakefield would have liked the Crosby pitch back.
“I tried to throw a hard (knuckler) and bury it into the dirt, but it stayed up. That one pitch cost us the game,” said Wakefield, whose record fell to 5-7 despite making mechanical adjustments that made his signature pitch much more effective last night.
The Sox rallied after the first confrontation with Iassogna. Ortiz went ballistic when Iassogna called him out after he thought he had checked his swing on a 3-and-2 pitch with two outs and no one on in the sixth.
In the next inning, a double by Manny Ramirez, a triple by Youkilis and a groundout by Wily Mo Pena produced two runs, cutting Boston’s deficit to 3-2.
But three relievers, the last of whom was Santaigo Casilla (first career) save, preserved that lead for Kennedy. Pinch hitter Jason Varitek flied to center on the first pitch he saw after Casilla issued a two-out walk to pinch hitter J.D. Drew, sealing the Sox’ fate with Francona watching the final outs on TV.
Francona said, after watching the replay, that maybe the pitch to Dustin Pedroia he objected to in the eighth wasn’t so bad at all. That, though, had nothing to do with the outcome, which once again was a tough one for the Sox to swallow.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:39 AM | Permalink
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