« July 11, 2007
July 13, 2007 »
July 12, 2007
Sox game story, Wakefield gets 10th win in 7-4 decision over Jays
BOSTON – Over the last few days, as Red Sox enjoyed the break and got ready for the second half of the season, the team’s offensive struggles became one of the few “needs improvement” marks on Boston’s first-half report card.
And while a few members in the Sox’ batting order hadn’t been producing as expected, any time the focus is on Boston’s offense, two names pop to the top of the list.
David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
Neither one had a stellar first half, especially in terms of home runs.
Ortiz’s problem (14 homers after a club-record 54 a year ago) may be partially attributable to a right knee injury that he said could require postseason surgery, though no MRI was scheduled, according to manager Terry Francona. Ortiz had 52 RBI, 11 fewer than team leader Mike Lowell.
Ramirez had only 11 homers and 45 RBI, well below his norms.
So the second half dawned last night.
Ortiz and Ramirez loudly answered the bell. Neither one homered, but the duo accounted for five RBI, including a key two-out ribbie apiece in the sixth as the Red Sox trimmed the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4, at Fenway Park.
“This team hasn’t played to its capablities (offensively),” said shortstop Julio Lugo, whose 2-for-4 night raised his average to .201.
“Everybody hasn’t gotten hot yet. Manny and David haven’t gotten hot yet. This is the time for them to get hot. Everybody’s got to get hot sometime,” added Lugo.
Clearly there is no time like the present for Ortiz and Ramirez to heat up.
It was last night’s type of production that the Red Sox have been seeking lately. They ended the first half of the season having scored four runs or less in 16 of their 32 games before the break.
And if they are going to put pressure on the opposition over the stretch run, it has to be the big boppers in the middle of the order, Ortiz and Ramirez, who have to begin carrying this offense.
They started doing that almost immediately last night.
In the first, Ortiz ripped an RBI single to right and Ramirez followed with a run-scoring double into the left-field corner, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead at the expense of Blue Jays’ ace right-hander Roy Halladay.
They teamed up in inflicting a little more damage in the second. Ortiz ripped another single to right, sending J.D. Drew to third, and Ramirez delivered Drew with a sacrifice fly to right, putting Boston ahead, 5-1.
The game tightened up after that, though. Tim Wakefield served up back-to-back gopher balls in the sixth to Matt Stairs and Alex Rios, cutting what had seemed to be a comfortable cushion into a one-run lead, at 5-4.
It was a time in the game that cried out for Ortiz and Ramirez to do something.
And they did, set up by Dustin Pedroia’s tough-at-bat, infield single with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Ortiz, facing left-hander Brian Tallet, crushed a sizzling liner to center that played tricks on Vernon Wells, the ball somehow eluding his lunge as he backed up to the fence. Pedroia scored easily, and it was 6-4 game.
Ramirez then greeted Casey Janssen with a ground-ball seed up the middle that glanced off the glove of diving second baseman Aaron Hill and zipped into center field for an RBI single – Ramirez’s third RBI of the game – and a 7-4 advantage for Boston.
While Ramirez got good wood on the ball, it was Ortiz who was especially impressive at the plate last night. In addition to his three hits, he also scalded a lineout before fanning in the eighth after having fouled a ball of his sore right knee.
“David didn’t elevate the ball, but he got two balls through the infield and had that lineout and the ball to center,” said manager Terry Francona. “He’ll hit home runs by mistake like that.”
Ortiz and Ramirez gave the Sox the breathing room they desired and then the bullpen trio of Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon (21st save) made that lead stand up.
“I know there are a lot of reasons every game in important to win, but it’s nice to come out of the gate (for the start of the second half) and get a win,” said Francona.
It also was very nice to see Ortiz and Ramirez produce, albeit without the long ball.
“They’re going to do it at some point,” said Kevin Youkilis of contributions from the heretofore dynamic duo.
“You’re not going to hold those guys down all year. They’re going to drive in runs. If they don’t have 80 or 70 RBI in the first half people think they’re having a bad year. But there still are a lot of games to go,” added Youkilis.
And Ortiz and Ramirez got off to good start in the second half, helping the Red Sox do likewise.
Posted by Thom Cahir at 11:00 PM to Krasner
Pauley, McEwing, Prieto fuel PawSox victory over Chiefs
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The PawSox returned from their three-day All-Star hiatus in a combative mood.
Which is to say that their batters battled, and their starter, David Pauley did, too.
The result was a healthy 9-5 triumph over the Syracuse Chiefs, before 7,172 at Alliance Bank Stadium.
Joe McEwing (4-for-5) and the suddenly resurgent Alex Prieto (3-for-4) knocked in three runs apiece to pace the 16-hit Pawtucket attack.
“The three days off was good for them,” said PawSox skipper Ron Johnson. “These guys really picked it up.”
Pauley (6-3), who gutted out 5 2/3 innings of five hit ball, hit one trouble spot after another in the early going. Yet he managed to keep the PawSox in a 1-1 tie through three innings.
He battled his way out of one bases loaded jam in the first, the promptly fell into another in the second. But he slipped out of that one with just minimal damage.
“He started focusing, again,” said Prieto, “and threw his stuff. It makes you want to win the game for him.”
Pauley’s mates supplied him with a 5-1 lead in the fourth, with a four run outburst that was highlighted by Joe McEwing’s two run homer.
Bobby Scales and George Kottaras whacked back to back doubles off Chiefs starter Josh Banks (7-6) to get Pawtucket started.
One out later, the hot-hitting Prieto (7 for his last 15) singled in Kottaras, setting the table for McEwing.
The PawSox upped the lead to 7-1 in the sixth, thanks to run scoring hits from Prieto and McEwing.
Syracuse made matters interesting in the seventh, when they scored three runs off reliever Craig Hansen to make it 7-4.
But Pawtucket tacked on two runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
AROUND THE BASES: All three PawSox who played in Wednesday’s Triple-A All Star Game made it back from Albuquerque, including OF Brandon Moss. Moss seemed no worse the wear for having had to answer a 3:45 a.m. wake up call. It may have been the adrenalin rush of having hit a first inning to help the International League take a 7-5 victory that kept him going.
“It was fun,” said Moss. “It was a nice place to play. It kind of spoils you.”
As for his big stage round tripper off Tacoma‘s Justin Lehr, Moss said it was more a product of high altitude and thin air, than raw power.
“In any park in this league,” he said, “that would have been a double.”
PawSox relievers Travis Hughes and Craig Breslow also took part.
As anticipated, highly touted RHP Clay Buchholz (No. 23 on your roster) has joined the PawSox from Double-A Portland, although he will not get his first start until Monday, when Ottawa visits McCoy Stadium. He takes the roster spot of 3B Chad Spann, who was sent down to the Sea Dogs…Also, 1B Jeff Bailey, who has been with Boston the past week, has been sent back and is expected to be in the Pawtucket lineup, tonight.
The PawSox will continue their visit here tonight (7:05 p.m.), when LHP Jon Lester (3-4, 3.62) is set to start against Syracuse RHP Mike MacDonald (2-6, 4.77).
-- DAN HICKLING
Posted by Chris Venditto at 10:59 PM to PawSox
Kevin Youkilis, who played sparingly the last week of the first half because of a strained left quadriceps, is back in the starting lineup tonight at first base.
Youkilis started only one of the Sox' final seven games of the first half. He started against Tampa Bay on July 3. His only other action over that stretch was a pinch-hitting appearance on July 7 (he flied out) in Detroit.
While he probably could have played, and while he definitely would have been playing had it been late in the season and the games were crucial, Manager Terry Francona opted to be patient with Youkilis, giving him the extra rest in the hope he would be more healthy at the start of the second half.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:11 PM | Permalink
Injured Pitchers Update
Curt Schilling, who played catch early today, is scheduled to throw 30-35 pitches in a side session tomorrow.
Schilling hasn't thrown off the mound since June 18, when he was scorched for 6 runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings in Atlanta. He has been on the disabled list because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.
"He has been doing well, how we hoped. The ball has been coming out of his hand well. I'm excited to see him off the mound. That's the next test," said Boston manager Terry Francona.
Two other injured right-handers are on the verge of returning to Boston's bullpen.
Joel Pineiro, who pitched an inning for Lowell last night on a rehabilitation assignment, is expected to be activated tomorrow. That transaction likely will result in Jeff Bailey's return to Pawtucket. Bailey, a first baseman, went 1 for 9 in three games in Detroit -- his hit was a homer -- in his first big-league action in an 11-year career in professional baseball. Bailey is not in tonight's lineup.
Brendan Donnelly will throw an inning for Lowell tomorrow night. After that session, the Sox will decide if he will be ready to return to action in Boston.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:00 PM | Permalink
No scheduled MRI for Ortiz
Contrary to published reports emanating from the All-Star Game in San Francisco, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was not scheduled to have an MRI on his ailing right knee today.
That, at least, was the word a short time ago from Boston manager Terry Francona.
"He didn't get an MRI. He didn't have one lined up. There was not one scheduled," said Francona. "I'm not sure I should be lending credence to something that's not there. It's hard to give credence to something that didn't happen."
That is not to say, however, that Ortiz isn't feeling discomfort in his right knee, a condition that no doubt is one reason the Sox' designated hitter had only 14 homers at the break. Ortiz told the Boston Herald in San Francisco that he may need surgery after the season. He was not sighted in the clubhouse prior to batting practice.
Francona talked about Ortiz having cramps in his legs in Texas earlier this year, and Ortiz also has said that his right quadriceps has been barking on him, too. Still, Francona didn't seem worried that he would be losing Ortiz from the lineup any time soon. Ortiz is batting third tonight.
"I don't think David feels like he's going to miss any games in the second half, and if he has to, I'll give him a rest," said Francona.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:45 PM | Permalink
Starting Lineups, July 12
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:40 PM | Permalink
Sox Streakers for July 12
-David Ortiz, 6 for 13 in Detroit series
-For the Blue Jays: Alex Rios, six-game hitting streak, during which he is 9 for 22 (.409)
-J.D. Drew, 1 for 11 in Detroit series
-Eric Hinske, 0 for his last 10
Blue Jays vs. Tim Wakefield
-Royce Clayton, 12 for 39 (.308), 1 HR
-Vernon Wells, 11 for 40 (.275)
-John McDonald, 5 for 19 (.263)
-Matt Stairs, 10 for 39 (.256), 1 HR
-Jason Phillips, 2 for 8 (250)
-Troy Glaus, 6 for 25 (.240), 1 HR
-Frank Thomas, 9 for 43 (.209), 4 HR
-Alex Rios, 5 for 24 (.208), 1 HR
-Gregg Zaun, 3 for 16 (.188)
-Aaron Hill, 2 for 13 (.154)
-Reed Johnson, 2 for 18 (.111)
-Howie Clark, 0 for 1
-Wakefield is 14-9 with a 3.75 E.R.A. in 43 career appearances (including 33 starts) against Toronto.
Red Sox vs. Roy Halladay
-J.D. Drew, 3 for 8 (.375)
-Mike Lowell, 5 for 14 (.357), 3 HR
-Kevin Youkilis, 8 for 23 (.348)
-Coco Crisp, 7 for 21 (.333), 1 HR
-David Ortiz, 19 for 66 (.288), 5 HR
-Wily Mo Pena, 2 for 7 (.286)
-Manny Ramirez, 18 for 69 (.261), 3 HR
-Jason Varitek, 13 for 53 (.245), 1 HR
-Julio Lugo, 9 for 37 (.243), 1 HR
-Eric Hinske, 2 for 9 (.222)
-Alex Cora, 3 for 15 (.200), 1 HR
-Doug Mirabelli, 2 for 12 (.167), 1 HR
-Dustin Pedroia, 0 for 9
-Halladay is 9-8 with a 4.67 E.R.A. in 30 career appearances (including 27 starts) against Boston; he has more losses against the Red Sox than any other team.
-Tim Wakefield has earned a decision in each of his 17 starts this season. Since 1980, only 16 pitchers have earned decisions in each of their first 18 starts. The last to do so was Jon Garland of the White Sox in 2005, the last Red Sox pitcher to do so was Pedro Martinez in 1999, and the longest such streak in the big leagues since 1980 belongs to the White Sox' Jack McDowell, who went 27 starts without a no-decision.
-All-time series: Boston 235, Toronto 186. The Red Sox are 5-3 against Toronto so far this season, but they are 0-2 at Fenway Park.
-Tonight is the first game of Boston's longest homestand this season: 11 games.
-The Red Sox' 10-game lead in the American League East is their biggest ever at the All-Star break. It is the third consecutive year that the Red Sox have been in first at the break.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:12 PM to Projo Sox Streakers
Projo SoxTalk: Ortiz's knee; A-Rod's contract
Today on projo SoxTalk, sports editor Art Martone and sports producer Mike McDermott look back on a newsy All-Star break. Click here to listen to the audio file. The topics include David Ortiz's knee injury, and how the Red Sox can avoid a collapse like the one they suffered last year; Alex Rodriguez's contract status (the Yankees are now offering to talk during the season to prevent his opting out of his current deal); and this weekend's Blue Jays-Red Sox series at Fenway Park.
Here are some excerpts from Art's comments.
This year's team vs. last year's, and the injury problems: "Theo Epstein made a point to say last year that the injuries just kind of exacerbated teamwide problems that had been kind of hidden by the team's first half, and I don't know if he feels the same way this season. ... If this knee injury is actually going to affect Ortiz's power, I think they're going to have trouble generating runs. Youkilis -- all along they've been saying this isn't that serious; it shouldn't sideline him longer than it already has, however if we come back tonight and we see he's out of the lineup, it could very well be that they put him on the DL, backdated to whenever he last played, because they just can't afford to play this shorthanded. That said, the depth of this team is pretty good right now. .. I think that overall right now they're in a little bit better shape than they were last year to sustain this, but even so, it's not a slam dunk that they can just sail on through. They're going to have to address these problems if they become chronic."
Will A-Rod opt out? "I would be stunned if he didn't opt out ... Scott Boras sees the biggest pot of gold ever at the end of this rainbow, and he's not going to get it if he doesn't get a bidding war going. There are a lot of well-heeled teams lining up for this guy -- the Angels; the Red Sox will be in this, you know they will; the Giants. ... The criticism is all nonsense; this guy is the best player in baseball. If he came to Fenway Park -- I've been saying this forever -- he'd hit 60, 70 home runs a year for the next couple of years ... He would be an offensive force almost unlike any other at Fenway Park. The Red Sox should break the bank for this guy."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:58 AM to Martone
| Comments 2
Baseball Today: Thursday, July 12
READY TO ROLL: The second half starts tonight, and Steven Krasner says health -- particularly the health of David Ortiz (above, Journal photo by Mary Murphy) -- will be the key for the Red Sox over the last 2 1/2 months. (projo.com) Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald agrees.
BEWARE FATHER TIME: Ortiz' health has been an issue the last few days, ever since he revealed he may need knee surgery. And the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley raises the notion that the knee problems are''a warning sign'' that Big Papi -- who turns 32 in November -- isn't getting any younger.
SETTLING IN: The Boston Globe's Gordon Edes has a midseason profile of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has embraced everything in Boston except the lack of privacy.
NO, THEY NEVER RETURNED: Tony Massarotti says the shortstop position has become the Red Sox' version of the Bermuda Triangle, though Theo Epstein -- noting Julio Lugo's ''track record in the American League East over the last three-and-a-half years is pretty good'' -- still thinks Lugo will pick up his game.
QUICK HITS: More and more, Coco Crisp's defense is getting noticed (Boston Globe) . . . Clay Buccholz 2007 may bear a striking resemblance to Jonathan Papelbon 2005 (Boston Herald) . . . The rehabbing Joel Piniero pitched a scoreless inning last night for the Lowell Spinners (Boston Herald).
IS THAT GRADING DONE ON A BELL CURVE? SI.com has handed out its midseason report card, and the Red Sox got a B-plus. The rest of the A.L. East, needless to say, won't be making any Honor Rolls.
TRADE TALK: The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice says the Red Sox are still in hot pursuit of the Astros' Brad Lidge . . . Mark Teixeira wants to play for a winner, and specifically mentions the Red Sox and Yankees as teams that ''want to compete and win'' in discussing his future with the Dallas Morning News. Teixeira, of course, becomes a free agent at the end of 2008 and could be traded between now and July 31.
BACK TO THE BRONX? The New York Daily News' staff thinks the Yankees will make a run at Mike Lowell, who began his career with the Yanks, if Alex Rodriguez becomes a free agent. The New York Daily News' Mike Lupica, for one, thinks A-Rod would be wise to leave.
BREAKING ALL THE RULES: Understanding that all bets are off if he hits free agency, the Yankees are abandoning their policy of not negotiating during the season and are willing to talk contract extension with Rodriguez right now, according to the Daily News. Problem (for them) is, A-Rod's agent, Scott Boras -- salivating over the potential pot of gold that could result from a postseason bidding war -- has no interest in talking.
SEASON TO REMEMBER, THOUGH NOT THE WAY THEY THOUGHT: The Village Voice's Allan Barra says the Yankees may become the first team in history to have a losing record despite four Hall of Famers on the roster. The four he cites: Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. (He also lists Jorge Posada as a marginal HOF candidate, and thinks Chien-Ming Wang has HOF potential.) ''How does a team with this kind of talent,'' he wonders, ''struggle to win half their games?''
SINCE YOU ASKED . . . Barra provides the answer: ''The rest of the team.''
HOT STUFF: FoxSports.com's Dayn Perry lists 10 burning questions -- ''Oven mitts recommended'' -- for the second half.
HARDWARE-FREE ZONE: The Sox were shut out of Tom Verducci's midseason awards (SI.com) . . . except for Julio Lugo, named the A.L.' s Breakdown Player.
PICTURE THIS: Last month, the Padres' Chris Young and the Cubs' Derrek Lee were duking it out at Wrigley Field. On Tuesday, they stood next to each other for the N.L. All-Star team picture. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
STATS, SCHMATS: Andruw Jones may be hitting only .211, and striking out about once every four at-bats, but Boras (there's that man again) still thinks he can get Jones a six or seven-year deal worth more than $120 million. (mlb.com)
OFF THE ITINERARY: Newsday reports that MLB is cooling on the idea of opening next season in China, though a Japan trip is still on the table.
INTERESTING INSIGHTS: Mike Piazza gives an in-depth interview to beliefnet.com, a spiritual web site, in which he discusses his Roman Catholic faith, baseball's steroids scandal, and how he feels about Barry Bonds breaking the all-time home-run record.
CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN: Rickey Henderson is returning to the major leagues as hitting coach for the Mets, who fired ex-Yankee and Red Sox hitting instructor Rick Down. So how long before Rickey begins lobbying manager Willie Randolph, his ex-Yankee teammate, for a chance to play?
DON'T COUNT ON IT: Newsday's Wallace Powell says the Mets are in trouble if they're relying on the recovering Pedro Martinez to do anything more than carry his own weight when he returns next month.
YOU THINK WHAT??? Albert Pujols is stunned that people believe there's a rift between him and manager Tony La Russa, despite Pujols' critical comments about La Russa not playing him in the All-Star Game.
HEADING TO THE SIDELINES? Deposed Rockies closer Brian Fuentes may be placed on the disabled list because of a strained ''lat muscle under his left arm.'' (Denver Post)
DON'T BE SURPRISED IF . . . The Orioles put Miguel Tejada on the trading block when he returns from his broken wrist in August, writes the Baltimore Sun's Rick Maese.
SO WHERE'S PRONKVILLE? ''Start the party in Pronkville. Travis Hafner is staying.'' So writes the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Paul Hoynes as he reports the Indians and Hafner have reached agreement on a $57 million contract extension that will keep him in Cleveland through 2012.
WHISPERS: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien addressed, and shot down, a Mark Teixeira-to-the-Braves rumor . . . Contrary to other reports, the New York Post says the Marlins will trade Dontrelle Willis. The Seattle Times reports that Willis-to-the-Mariners reports are circulating . . . Now the Rangers aren't so sure they'll trade Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka (Dallas Morning News) . . . The Twins have interest in the A's Dan Johnson, who may be traded to make room for prospect Daric Barton (St. Paul Pioneer Press) . . . The Yankees have ''moderate interest'' in Victor Zambrano, who was waived by the Mets last week. (New York Post) . . . The same story says the Yanks have cooled on Shea Hillenbrand, mainly because the younger and cheaper Andy Phillips (now hitting .316) is doing the job they envisioned for Hillenbrand, and may be doing it better than Hillenbrand could.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:09 AM | Permalink