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June 14, 2007
Pitching goes the way of hitting for the Sox
BOSTON -- Suddenly, it has all gone wrong for the Red Sox.
For the past 10 days or so, they couldnt hit. But now, over the last two nights, they havent been able to pitch, either.
Like Curt Schilling the night before, Josh Beckett let the game get away from him in the early innings. Beckett, who hadnt lost a start before last night, was bashed for a season-high 10 hits and six runs as the Sox suffered their third loss in the last four tries, 7-1 to the Colorado Rockies.
Bostons loss, coupled with the Yankees ninth-straight win earlier in the day, narrowed the Sox lead in the A.L. East to 7 ½ games.
Beckett was bidding to become the first Red Sox pitcher to begin a season 10-0 since Ike Delock in 1958. Instead, he found himself trailing before his teammates got a turn at bat.
Two innings later, Beckett loaded the bases with a single to Kaz Matsui, a double to Matt Holliday and a walk to Todd Helton, then promptly unloaded them with a grand slam into the Monster Seats from Garrett Atkins.
``(Expletive) pitch, sighed Beckett. ``No other word for it."
The lead grew to 5-0 when Matt Holliday smacked a solo homer in the fourth. It was the third homer in the last two nights by Rockies hitters.
``We made some mistakes at the wrong time," agreed catcher Jason Varitek. ``The big one was the Atkins home run. We stay away from that and were in that ball game."
Instead, the early deficit proved too much for the suddenly slumping offense to overcome.
Entering last night, Beckett had received the strongest run support 7.3 runs per nine innings -- of the Red Sox five regular starters this season. But the teams offensive drought continued unabated. Another lineup combination this one featuring J.D. Drew as the teams fourth leadoff hitter in the last four games couldnt generate much punch.
In the three-game series with Colorado, the Sox scored a total of five runs. Over the last 9 games, the Sox have scored more than two runs in a game exactly twice. Since leaving for the West Coast on June 3, the Sox have averaged slightly better than three runs per game.
Subtract their 10-run outburst against Arizona a week ago in the series opener at Chase Field, and that number dips to 2.5 runs per contest.
``Were not scoring in bunches, but we will, asserted Terry Francona. ``You always get tested over 162 games. Well keep at it; its about the only thing we can do. Well keep going and get ourselves through it.
``Its not good, man," said David Ortiz. ``We havent been hitting for (anything), so hopefully, we'll get better."
The Sox were a woeful 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position last night and stranded 14 baserunners.
The night might have turned around for the Sox with some better luck in the second.
With the bases loaded and just one out, Drew hit a rocket up the middle. But rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, shifted behind the second base bag, extended himself and snared the knee-high line drive, freezing the baserunners.
``Were looking at a 2-1 lead and being in the middle of a big rally (if the ball gets past the infield)," lamented Francona. ``Then they turn around in the top of the next inning and hit the grand slam. Thats a big swing right there, obviously a pivotal point in the game.
Beckett blamed poor command within the strike zone for his ineffectiveness and first loss of the season.
``It was a fun run, he said of his 9-0 start.
The Sox had some early-inning opportunities against Colorado lefty Jeff Francis, but couldnt collect a hit when it counted.
Boston stranded two in the first, left the bases loaded in the second and stranded two more in the fourth.
``I wouldnt necessarily call it a slump when were hitting balls at people at different times," said Varitek.. ``If that ball goes through for J.D., we have ourselves a different ball game. Things always have to match up. You have to pitch well when you swing the bats."
And for the time being, the Sox are doing neither.
Posted by Thom Cahir at 11:14 PM to McAdam
Game Story: Pauley sharp in PawSox 4-2 win
PAWTUCKET -- PawSox starting pitcher David Pauley showed more of his burgeoning mound maturity last night, allowing just three hits and one run over six innings as Pawtucket claimed its fourth straight win, by taking the series opener against Richmond, 4-2.
Pauley, who turns 24 on Sunday, had his best off-speed stuff of the season, particularly on his breaking ball, which had been failing him for much of the year. He also showed calm under pressure -- something he said is new this year -- getting out of a jam in the sixth by taking a step back.
"I’ve just been keeping the game at my pace," Pauley said when asked of his recent success. He is now 4-0 with a 3.08 ERA over his last six starts, allowing just 12 earned runs over 35 1/3 innings. "When I have a situation with runners on, I take a step back (off the mound) and slow things down."
After giving up just one hit over the first five innings, Pauley allowed singles to centerfielder Gregor Blanco and second baseman Martin Prado to start the sixth. Though Blanco would score on consecutive groundouts, by Brayan Pena and Graham Koonce, the 6-foot-2 righthander finished off his night by striking out leftfielder Doug Clark.
"His breaking ball had depth and spin; it’s the best he’s had for us this year," manager Ron Johnson said.
"Definitely," Pauley agreed. "It’s something that’s not been there for me at all this season. It was nice for me to use it for strikes, and to use it for strikouts, too."
Pauley went from Portland to Boston last year, making his major league debut on May 31 against Toronto when David Wells left the rotation with a knee injury. He went 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in three starts with the Red Sox before spending the rest of the season with Pawtucket. Though he’s gotten a taste of the bigs, Pauley is still learning his craft, and the mental aspect has been a big part of his development this season.
"Things are going well right now (but) it’s easy to talk well when things are going well. A few outings I’ve scuffled a bit and this year I’ve been able to get out of those spots when the team needs it," he said. "Last year I would have tried to rush to get an inning over (like last night’s sixth). This game, I stepped off and said, ’O.k., I have to make pitches and slow down the game.’"
Although he had thrown only 95 pitches through six, Johnson had to pull Pauley to get work for relievers Craig Breslow, Craig Hansen and Travis Hughes, none of whom had worked in a few days. But Pauley understood, and said he has "complete respect" for the way things go at this level.
The trio did their job; Breslow pitched a perfect seventh, though Hansen allowed a run in the eighth on a walk, hit batter and fielder’s choice. Hughes was perfect in the ninth.
Offensively, the runs were provided by one expected source and one that was not-so-expected.
Centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury had two RBI, giving him seven since joining the PawSox more than five weeks ago. His groundout in the third scored Bobby Scales, providing the first run of the night. In the next inning, he capped a three-run fourth with a double that painted the third-base line, scoring Jeff Bailey.
Pawtucket loaded the bases with none out to start the home half of the fourth. Catcher Kevin Cash and right fielder Brandon Moss drew walks to lead off, and a hard single to right by Bailey put a man on every bag. Designated hitter Michael Tucker scored Cash and Moss with a single up the middle, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead.
The PawSox’ win gives them a 10-3 record in June. The victory, coupled with Syracuse’s loss to Toledo, pulls them into a fourth-place tie with the SkyChiefs in the North division.
Posted by Chris Venditto at 11:10 PM to PawSox
What they're saying postgame
David Ortiz on lack of offense of late:
“It’s not good, man. We haven’t been hitting for [crap], so hopefully it’ll get better.”
Ortiz on hitting balls at people:
“It happens, but we’ll get them next time.”
On the importance of Ramirez to hit home runs:
“It’s not like he doesn’t want to and he’s not trying. “They’ve been pitching us tough, they don't care about walking us. Hopefully he can come out and do want he normally does if he can get some pitches and take over."
When will the slump end?
"When they decide to throw something over the plate it will," said Ortiz.
Ortiz on the Giants:
"You know they are going to boo the [crap] out of Barry."
Varitek on Beckett:
“We made some mistakes at the wrong times. The big one was the (grand slam) by Atkins, and if we stay away from that we’re in that ballgame.”
Varitek on Beckett’s command:
“He’s been better. We got behind on some breaking balls and weren’t able to make pitches at different times. Really, it just comes down to that one pitch to Atkins. Outside of that he kept us in the game.”
Varitek on the San Francisco Giants:
“It’ll be exciting for baseball. It will be the first (regular-season) time the Giants have ever been here, but outside of that they are a team we’re tying to beat and a series we’re trying to win.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 10:59 PM | Permalink
| Comments 1
FINAL: Colorado 7, Boston 1
BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett suffered his first loss of the season as the Rockies scored six runs on 10 hits off Boston's ace en route to a 7-1 victory in the series finale at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox managed only one run on 10 hits as they drop their second game in a row to Colorado.
We'll have more clubhouse reaction soon. . .
Posted by Joe McDonald at 10:18 PM | Permalink
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FINAL: PawSox 4, Braves 2
The Pawtucket Red Sox won their fourth straight game tonight, taking the series opener with the Richmond Braves at McCoy Stadium, 4-2.
Michael Tucker's two-run single to center in the fourth put Pawtucket up 3-0, and starter David Pauley scattered three hits over six innings for his fourth win of the season. Craig Breslow, Craig Hansen and Travis Hughes combined to finish the game.
Posted by Shalise Manza Young at 9:28 PM | Permalink
The Sox lineup
The Sox lineup:
J.D. Drew rf
Dustin Pedroia 2b
David Ortiz dh
Manny Ramirez lf
Kevin Youkilis 1b
Mike Lowell 3b
Jason Varitek c
Coco Crisp cf
Julio Lugo ss
Josh Beckett p
Posted by Sean McAdam at 5:05 PM | Permalink
Leadoff hitter du jour
BOSTON -- For the fourth game in a row, the Red Sox are using a different leadoff hitter than the day before.
Sunday, it was Julio Lugo; Tuesday, it was Dustin Pedroia, with Lugo dropped to ninth. Last night, it was Coco Crisp. And today, the choice is J.D. Drew.
''It's not going to be an everyday thing,'' said Drew. ''(Manager Terry Francona) just wanted to throw it there and see how it works.''
Francona said Drew has a good history (3-for-7) against Colorado starter Jeff Francis and despite his slumping average (.236), hasn't lost his ability to get on base regularly.
''I don't know if it's feasible (witn interleague play continuing) to have one lineup for the next two weeks,'' said Francona.
If Barry Bonds isn't about to get a hero's welcome tomorrow night, one of his San Francisco teammates will. Dave Roberts, who recently came off the DL, will make his first return visit to Fenway since the 2004 World Series.
Francona labeled Roberts' steal of second base in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 LCS ''`the single most exciting play I've ever been around.''
Roberts is the one of the last ex-Sox players from the championship squad to return as an opponent.
''I would be shocked if, when Dave comes up, the place doesn't explode,'' said Francona.
-- SEAN McADAM
Posted by Sean McAdam at 5:00 PM | Permalink
Sox Streakers for June 14
From the team's official game notes:
-Josh Beckett, looks to become the fifth pitcher in Red Sox history to start a season 10-0.
-David Ortiz, 19 for 45 (.422) over his last 12 games.
-Manny Ramirez, 25 for 60 (.417) over his last 18 games.
-Coco Crisp, 4 for 32 (.125) over his last nine games.
-Julio Lugo, 4 for 34 (.118) over his last nine games.
-Dustin Pedroia, 4 for 22 (.182) over his last seven games.
Rockies vs. Josh Beckett
-Willy Taveras, 1 for 2 (.500)
-Garrett Atkins, 3 for 7 (.429)
-Yorvit Torrealba, 3 for 7 (.429)
-Matt Holliday, 4 for 11 (.364)
-Jamey Carroll, 5 for 14 (.357)
-Todd Helton, 3 for 10 (.300), 1 HR
-Kaz Matsui, 2 for 8 (.250)
-Brad Hawpe, 1 for 6 (.167)
-No other active Rockies player has an at-bat against Beckett
-Beckett is 4-0 with a 2.81 E.R.A. for his career against Colorado.
Red Sox vs. Jeff Francis
-Eric Hinske, 1 for 1 (1.000)
-J.D. Drew, 3 for 7 (.429)
-Julio Lugo, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Coco Crisp, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Mike Lowell, 0 for 3
-Wily Mo Pena, 0 for 2
-No other active Red Sox player has an at-bat against Francis.
-Francis has never faced the Red Sox.
-The Red Sox-Rockies all-time series is tied, 4-4.
-Boston is looking for its 12th straight series victory against a National League team. They last lost an interleague series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in June 2005.
-Boston's 12 runs allowed yesterday was its second-most of this season. The Red Sox gave up 14 to Atlanta on May 19.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:54 PM to Projo Sox Streakers
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Will someone please start hitting
Today on Projo SoxTalk, Sean McAdam talks about the Red Sox' hitting slump, and possible ways to fix it (there aren't too many). Click here to listen to the audio file. He also sizes up the trade market.
Here are a few excerpts from Sean's comments:
On the recent lack of hitting: "This has been really about two weeks that they've been in this offensive funk, and they've wasted a lot of good [pitching] performances, although last night was not one of them."
On the A.L. East race: "Everyone understood [the Red Sox] weren't going to play near-.700 ball the entire way. [An 8 1/2-game lead] is still pretty significant, and if the Red Sox merely continue to play at a clip where they're winning two out of three and taking series, then they don't have to worry about the Yankees eating too much into that lead."
On trade possibilities: "I think the fact that a player the caliber of Mark Teixeira is being made available by Texas could open some things up. Oftentimes one trade leads to another. If a team misses out on its first choice on the trade market, they may go seeking another, and all of a sudden you might have a little momentum built and activity picks up. But Teixeira is clearly the biggest name available, and a couple of his teammates -- including Eric Gagne the closer and center fielder Kenny Lofton and maybe even Sammy Sosa could all probably be had as part of a housecleaning on part of the Texas Rangers, who are a huge disappointment and are looking to kind of blow it up and start over."
Be sure to listen to the audio file to hear about where the market might take Teixeira and Sosa.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:48 AM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Thursday, June 14
|WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? If you were told before last night's game that a matchup between Curt Schilling (right, AP Photo) and Josh Fogg would result in a 12-2 score, you probably wouldn't have been surprised. But the fact that Colorado would be on the long end of that score . . . well, that would have raised a few eyebrows. And so it has, as Schilling was rocked -- his effort hindered by some shaky defense -- and the Rockies rolled. (Both stories projo.com)
SURPRISE, SURPRISE: The game turned on the two-out, three-run homer by Brad Hawpe in the fifth inning, turning a 3-2 Rockies lead into a 6-2 advantage. In his breakdown of the game, Schilling writes ''To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I’ve given up more than my share of home runs, but not that many come as total shocks to me, this one was. Not because of the hitter or anything but a home run wasn’t even in the deepest recesses of my sub conscious right there. I was sure I was making the right pitch to the right hitter in the right spot.'' (38pitches.com)
RARITIES: Allan Wood points out that a clunker from a Red Sox starting pitcher is something we haven't seen very much of this year. (joyofsox.blogspot.com)
GLASS IS HALF FULL: Manny Ramirez is stuck on eight home runs, but Kevin Youkilis thinks that's a good thing ''because that means the second half is going to be unbelievable. You know what you’re going to get every year. He’s going to hit .300. He’s going to hit 30 jacks. It’s better that he’s not doing it now. That just means it’s coming down the road.” (Boston Herald)
IT SURE IS: The New York Sun's Tim Marchman says that rather than playing over their heads -- which is what many in Yankee Universe think they've done over the first part of the season -- the Red Sox are actually underachieving and ''are probably more likely to play better than they have over the rest of the season than they are to suddenly collapse.''
HEY, NOW, YOU'RE AN ALL-STAR (I HOPE): David Ortiz is asking Major League Baseball to replace him with Youkilis on the All-Star ballot. (projo.com) ''[What] it comes down to is David being a really good guy and a great teammate. He’s trying to help Youk out,'' said Terry Francona.
GIMME SOME STEEL, BABY: Three ex-Red Sox -- Dick Stuart, Jose Offerman and Jose Canseco -- earn spots on Bugs & Cranks' list of all-time worst fielders.
MORE HONORS: Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez have spots on FoxSports' Randy Hill's Gall-Star Team, with old pal Kevin Millar earning honorable mention. If it's any consolation to Red Sox fans, the Yankees outpace the Sox -- Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens also make Hill's list of ''baseball players whose exaggerated importance demonstrates an excess of nerve and ego.'' And I suppose both the Yankees and Sox can claim David Wells if they so choose; he's there, too.
MY BUDDY: Barry Bonds may not have many friends when he arrives in Boston with the Giants this week, but PawSox minor-league field coordinator Rob Leary, a childhood pal and high school teammate of the Giants' slugger, is one of them. (projo.com)
I WANNA BE FREE: Jorge Posada says he's headed for free agency and when he arrives, the Yankees will get no special treatment. "I'll treat every team the same. That's what free agency is. It's my first time as a free agent.'' (Bergen Record) Derek Jeter, however, insists: ''He ain't going nowhere. He'll be back.''
CONNECT THE DOTS: FoxSports' Kevin Hench is the latest to put 'Roger Clemens' and 'steroids' in the same sentence.
IS THE END NEAR? Jason Giambi has had 'steroids' put in many sentences involving his name, and USA Today reports he may be suspended if he doesn't cooperate with former senator George Mitchell's investigation on steroid use.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH: But the Yankees hope that's not the case after recording their eighth straight victory last night, 7-2 over the Diamondbacks. (New York Post) Credit last night goes to Mike Mussina. (New York Daily News)
I WANT TO BE A PART OF IT: Alex Rodriguez is pricing a $16 million penthouse on New York's East Side. (New York Daily News) And why not? FoxSports' Tracy Ringolsby says there are 27 million reasons why A-Rod won't opt out of his contract and will stay with the Yankees.
BATTING PRACTICE FASTBALL: Much as you can expect Mike Lupica to tee off on anything negative regarding the Yankees, the White Sox' recent interaction with Patti LaBelle gives Jay Mariotti the opportunity to hack at his favorite target, Ozzie Guillen. But this time he fires away at Jerry Reinsdorf and Ken Williams, too . . . and he may have a point. (Chicago Sun-Times)
THEY'RE NUMBER ONE: More and more people think the Angels are the best team in baseball. (mlb.com)
PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING: And they looked it last night in beating Cincinnati. (Los Angeles Daily News)
BOY, YOU HAVE ONE BAD DAY . . . That's what the Pirates' Jack Wilson thinks cost him his starting job, at least temporarily. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
TAKE TWO: Cubs catcher Michael Barrett had another altercation with one of his pitchers. (Chicago Sun-Times)
AND THREE: Warwick's Dan Wheeler shoved teammate Chris Sampson in the dugout when Sampson came over to console him after Wheeler had surrendered four runs in Houston's 7-3 loss to Oakland last night, but Wheeler quickly apologized. ''There's nothing going on between Chris and I. I love Chris. That was just frustration on my part. That's all it was. That's really all. I'm a professional, and I should be better than that. I take full responsibility'' (Houston Chronicle)
DO YOUR FIGHTING WITH THE UMPIRES: That's what the Marlins did in their loss to the Indians. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS: Rich Harden felt good and Huston Street didn't as they attempted their comebacks with the A's. (San Jose Mercury News)
JUST GOOD NEWS (THEY HOPE): The Blue Jays don't think A.J. Burnett's shoulder problem is very serious. (mlb.com)
IF THIS IS YOUR BIGGEST PROBLEM, YOU'RE IN GREAT SHAPE: The Tigers can't figure out what to do with the seagulls at Comerica Park. (Detroit Free Press)
OLD FRIENDS: Pedro Martinez has his pitch count up to 50 as he rehabs from rotator-cuff surgery (New York Daily News) . . . Anibal Sanchez is still hurting (Miami Herald).
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:04 AM | Permalink