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June 16, 2007
Game Story: PawSox win on Kottaras's homer in ninth
PAWTUCKET – It was George Kottaras to the rescue once again last night for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Five days after hitting the club’s first walk-off home run of the season – that one a three-run bomb over the Hood sign in right field that gave his team a 6-5 victory over Ottawa – the 24-year-old catcher delivered again yesterday and in the same fashion, blasting a first-pitch fastball over that same sign to give the PawSox a 4-3 decision over the Richmond Braves before a McCoy Stadium crowd of 9,534.
With his late-inning heroics, Kottaras helped Bryan Corey pick up his second victory, after helping the right-hander earn his first win last Monday.
``I’ve been feeling good,’’ said Kottaras, who has now hit safely in six out of his last eight games. ``I’ve been working with the hitting guys, making small adjustments here and there, and things are just coming together. It’s a good feeling.’’
The PawSox got off to a good start, doing more damage in the first inning of last night’s game than they did in nine innings combined against Richmond on Friday, when Pawtucket managed just two hits and suffered a 3-0 loss.
The PawSox kept Braves right fielder Larry Bigbie plenty busy in the opening frame, beginning with back-to-back doubles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Joe McEwing.
Michael Tucker followed a David Murphy single to right with another double to that side of the field, plating McEwing who had driven in Ellsbury with his hit.
Tucker later scored on an Ed Rogers’ infield single to make it 3-0.
But Richmond got one run back in the third, sixth and seventh innings to tie the score.
Martin Prado, who previously went first to third on Brayan Pena’s single to right, put the Braves on the board in the third, scoring on Graham Koonce’s double-play ball.
PawSox starter Kason Gabbard then gave up an RBI single to Bigbie in the sixth before being relieved by Craig Hansen in the seventh.
Hansen – who had posted a 10.39 ERA in his five previous outings after pitching eight scoreless innings in the six outings before that – surrendered a two-out RBI single to Pena in that inning.
``We got some runs early and then we just died,’’ said PawSox manager Ron Johnson. ``I mean, it’s hard to say died when you’re playing a club like this. They’ve got some really good guys and they came in after the first inning and that was it. We even tried some things to try to create some stuff that didn’t work, and they kept scratching back in it. And it makes it very uncomfortable with a ballclub like this because you know how good they are, and if you let them stick around, the next thing you know it’s a tie game.’’
But then Kottaras delivered in the bottom of the ninth. After Corey pitched his second scoreless inning for Pawtucket, Kottaras stepped to the plate and drove the first Jeff Bennett offering out of the park.
``I was just trying to do the same thing’’ as last Monday night, he said. ``Just go up there and have a good at-bat and put the ball in play hard somewhere, and that’s what happened.’’
-- CAROLYN THORNTON
Posted by Chris Venditto at 9:40 PM to PawSox
FINAL: Walk-off homer by Kottaras gives PawSox 4-3 win over Richmond
George Kottaras belted his second walk-off homer of the week, giving the PawSox a 4-3 win over the Richmond Braves at McCoy.
Posted by Carolyn Thornton at 8:48 PM to PawSox
Game Story: Red Sox 1, Giants 0
BOSTON -- If one of the greatest sluggers in baseball history is going to make only one visit to Fenway Park in his fabled career, he might as well do something special.
That’s exactly what took place yesterday. Giants star Barry Bonds had a memorable at-bat, one that could go down as one of the top 10 highlights of the season. Unlike most of his visits to the other 39 Major League parks in which he has played, though, the magic moment at Fenway will be all negative for Bonds, all positive for the Red Sox.
In a game in which Manny Ramirez homered to provide the run in a 1-0 Red Sox victory; in which Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka turned in his best performance yet in a Boston uniform; it was Bonds’ eighth-inning at-bat against reliever Hideki Okajima that was most memorable.
With two on and no outs, Bonds never took the bat off his shoulder as Okajima poured in three straight strikes to whiff the man on the verge of breaking Hank Aaron’’s home-run record.
Okajima then retired Bengie Molina and pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen to get out of the inning. When Jonathan Papelbon came on and pitched a perfect ninth, the Sox had the decision
Anyone who thinks 1-0 games are boring should be shown a tape of what happened yesterday. A glorious day filled with sunshine, the Fenway faithful and a national television audience were treated to a show that had all kinds of twists and turns.
The managers were called on to make tough strategy decisions. The Giants played their infield in with a runner on third and one out in the third inning. The Red Sox used two different infield alignments when Bonds came to bat with runners on first and second and no outs.
The pitching was fabulous. Main Cain, the 22-year-old righthander who is quickly becoming a star despite his 2-7 record, was outstanding for the Giants. But Matsuzaka was even better for the Red Sox.
``He pitched a great game,’’ San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said of Matsuzaka.
``Daisuke was really good and on a day when he had to be every bit that good,’’ agreed Boston manager Terry Francona.
Matsuzaka went seven innings and allowed three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts. Only two of the 21 outs the Giants made against him went to the outfield.
``He’s like an American League pitcher,’’ said San Francisco outfielder Dave Roberts. ``He’ll throw breaking ball, breaking ball, mix in a fastball and then another breaking ball. He did a good job of chahging speeds. . . He made the pitches he needed to make at the right time.’’
It was Ramirez who got Matsuzaka the run he needed. Ramirez had gone 51 at-bats over 19 days without a home run when he came up in the fourth.
``It was a spinning slider and he took advantage of it. That’s what he’’s known for,’’ said Cain. ``I wanted it down and away. It probably spun over the middle.’’ The pitch stayed up in the zone and Ramirez ripped it into the Monster Seats.
That was all the Sox could get against Cain. The young right-hander lowered his earned run average to 3.15. It is a sign of how many offensive problems the Giants have that despite his numbers his team is only 2-12 in his 14 starts.
Matsuzaka made the one run stand up with what he called his best day yet in a Boston uniform.
``This was the first time I was able to hold the opponent to zero runs and at the same time I was able to protect our slim an precious one-run lead, so in that sense I’m very happy with my performance today,’’ he said.
The one tough inning Matsuzaka had was the sixth when the Giants put runners on first and second with no outs. Matsuzaka made the Sox fans, who continued to loudly boo Bonds happy, when he retired Bonds on a ground ball, got Molina on a liner to short and, after hitting Nate Schierholtz on a 2-2 pitch, struck out Rich Aurelia looking on a full count cut-fastball.
``I felt I was able to reach back inside myself and show a side of myself I haven’t shown here yet,’’ Matsuzaka said.
His work was excellent. But it merely set the table for an even more exciting eighth. Matsuzaka was disappointed he did not get the chance to work the eighth. He was removed after throwing 112 pitches through seven.
``I felt the pitch count was a reasonable number, for me anyways, and when I came to the bench the coach (John Farrell) came up and asked me if I was prepared to go another inning,’’ he related. ``I told him I was. Soon after that the manager came over and told me Okajima would be going in the game.’’
When Randy Winn walked and Ray Durham singled to open the eighth, it looked like it might be a bad decision. When Okajima went 2-0 to Bonds, Farrell, the pitching coach, came out to talk to him. Okajima said he did not try to do anything special against Bonds.
``My approach was the same as other hitters,’’ he said. Farrell told him to challenge Bonds.
Okajima threw a curve for strike one, then two straight 87 mile-per-hour fastballs. All strikes. Bonds never got the bat off his shoulder. The boos Bonds had been receiving turned to rousing cheers.
It was a special moment in a terrific game. It will give the 36,381 fans a story to tell about how they were there the day Barry Bonds never got his bat off his shoulder in the clutch.
-- PAUL KENYON
Posted by Chris Venditto at 8:36 PM | Permalink
On BP and rolling the ball to first base
Batting practice looked a bit different for the Red Sox today.
In recognition of the fact that the team plays in Atlanta and San Diego this coming week, the starting pitchers, minus Daisuke Matsuzaka, today’s starter, took their turns in the cage. . .
As he spoke with reporters before the game, Francona still had not received the organization report on Jon Lester’s performance Friday night at McCoy.
``By all accounts he was pretty good but I haven’t seen the broken down report,’’ Francona said. Lester went seven innings and allowed two runs. . .
Francona does not want to take credit for Julian Tavarez’ penchant for rolling the ball to first base. Tavarez did it to get an out Friday, the second time he has done so this season.
``If that’s he has to do,’’ the manager began, ``I don’t claim to understand it, but. . . I guess there’s no rest of the sentence.’’
``I’ve never seen that before. We didn’t teach him,’’ Francona said. Then he added, with a smile, ``It’s a good thing Youk is over there (at first base) not Millar.’’ It clearly was a poke at former Sox first baseman Kevin Millar, now with the Orioles. Francona smiled broadly when he said it.
Posted by Paul Kenyon at 2:00 PM | Permalink
Ortiz still not happy
Even as he dressed for today’s game David Ortiz was still less than happy with his ejection from Friday night’s contest.
``He threw me out because he wanted to,’’ Ortiz said of being tossed by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. Randazzo called Ortiz out looking. The ball looked to be low but over the plate. Ortiz was ejected for throwing his bat and helmet as he reached the Boston dugout. It was his sixth career ejection and third with Boston. His last was Aug. 19, 2005 in Anaheim.
Sox manager Terry Francona made it clear he was a bit puzzled, as well as unhappy, by Randazzo’s actions.
``I think you’ve got to keep it in perspective a little bit,’’ Francona said, noting that Ortiz had walked away and was at the edge of the dugout when he was ejected. ``If he throws his helmet and it goes in the dugout, nothing happens. Nobody says anything.’’
``I don’t think it’s necessarily correct to say mounting frustration. He got all the way back to the dugout and didn’t get thrown out,’’ Francona said. ``The umpire was doing as much,maybe not as much, but not letting it go.’’
Francona said he sought out replays after the game to try and understand what happened.
``After watching it I still didn’t quite understand it,’’ he said. The manager does not think Ortiz is getting a reputation for arguing too much with umpires.
``I think David’s got a very good reputation around the league,’’ Francona said. ``We talked to our hitters about not swinging at balls. David, because he is DH, has the ability to look at all the pitches all the game. He wants to swing at strikes because we harp on him about that. You go through periods where sometimes the plate gets wider, sometimes it doesn’t that’s baseball.’’
Posted by Paul Kenyon at 1:44 PM | Permalink
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Lugo's off; Drew and Pedroia stay at the top
Julio Lugo has a day off and J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia stay at the top of the Red Sox lineup.
Those are the key parts of the Boston lineup for today. Manager Terry Francona said the fact that Lugo is not in the starting lineup has less to do with his current struggles (8--for-56, .143 in his last 15 games) than with a desire to get Alex Cora some playing time.
``Cora’s a good player. I’d like to be somewhat consistent in picking days where I think they’re good for everybody,’’ Francona said in his meeting with the media a few minutes ago. ``I don’t want Alex to go very long without playing because I think he’s an important part of our team.’’
Cora will hit eighth. At the top, Drew will lead off and Pedroia hit second as the team did Friday night in a 10-2 victory over the Giants. Between them the two went 8-for-9. It was not a tough decision keeping them there, Francona said. He said bench coach Brad Mills asked him about it.
``Millsy came in. He knew who was playing. He wanted to know in what order,’’ Francoa related. ``I said are you nuts?’’
There is no messing with a good thing in this case. Drew and Pedroia stay where they had success.
Here is the Boston lineup. The Giants have yet to post theirs:
Posted by Paul Kenyon at 1:23 PM | Permalink