« July 15, 2007
July 17, 2007 »
July 16, 2007
Game story: Red Sox 4, Royals 0
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- It was, in all respects, a win-win day for the Red Sox yesterday.
In the afternoon, the team was encouraged by a simulated game thrown by Curt Schilling, who's been sidelined with a weak shoulder for exactly a month.
Then, in a bit of perfect symmetry, Kason Gabbard, Schilling's replacement in the rotation, threw the best game of his professional career, a three-hit, 4-0 shutout of the Kansas City Royals.
The effort was just the second complete game shutout for Red Sox starters this season. The other? That would be Schilling, of course, in his one-hitter in Oakland on June 7.
''That,'' concluded manager Terry Francona in admiration, ''was a well-pitched major league game. Right from the very first inning, he established his changeup to righties and his breaking ball to lefties and commanded his fastball with a lot of movement. He attacked the strike zone right from the first inning and got them in swing mode.
''He pitched a very, very solid game.''
Gabbard struck out a career-high eight and walked just one. He faced the minimum number of hitters in every inning but one in becoming the first Red Sox rookie to throw a nine-inning shutout since Paul Quantrill blanked Seattle on July 4, 1993. Not since John Curtis (1972) had a rookie lefty recorded a shutout.
''He did an excellent job,'' said catcher Jason Varitek, whom Gabbard singled out for his success. ''That was well-needed for the staff, to give the bullpen a rest.''
Gabbard had thrown 93 pitches after eight innings. The Sox had had lefty Hideki Okajima warming that inning, but Francona's faith in Gabbard never waivered.
''After the eighth,'' said Gabbard, ''they didn't come over and say anything. I didn't know how many pitches I had. (But the idea of a complete game) starts hitting you a little bit.
''The only complete games I've thrown were in high school. It's great to do it here, I'll tell you that, in fromt of these fans and some of my family, too. It's great.''
Gabbard, who struck out eight, fanned five of the first nine hitters he faced and didn't allow a hit until Emil Brown singled to right with one out in the fifth.
That inning, a walk and a two-out hit batsman loaded the bases for the Royals. But Gabbard got Tony Pena to hit a chopper behind the mound that second baseman Dustin Pedroia charged.
''I was playing up the middle,'' said Pedroia, ''so I got a good jump. Pena runs real well, so it was a matter of getting to the ball as quickly as I could.''
Pedroia's throw nipped Pena at first and Gabbard had escaped the only jam he would face.
In his five starts this season -- four since being inserted as a fill-in for Schilling -- the Sox have won three times. In another start, the Sox lost in 13 innings after Gabbard had limited the Detroit Tigers to just two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Schilling may be only two weeks away from returning to his spot, but Gabbard seemed unfazed by the prospect of surrendering his role.
''My next start is Saturday,'' he said, ''and I'm going to prepare for that. I'm going to pitch when they tell me to. I'm going to do what they tell me to. That's all I can do. I'm not worried about it.''
With performances like this, he shouldn't. It's conceivable that when Schilling returns, Gabbard could remain in the rotation by bumping the struggling Julian Tavarez into the bullpen.
Gabbard got all the support he needed when Dustin Pedroia and Manny Ramirez launched solo homers in the fourth.
''The pitch to Pedroia,'' said Kansas City starter Brian Bannister, ''was exactly where I wanted it to be. It was letter-high, but he just swung up and got enough of the barrel of the bat on it.''
The Sox doubled their margin of comfort in the sixth when Pedroia singled with one out and David Ortiz drove a pitch into the seats in right.
Of the Ortiz clout -- the Sox DH's second homer in the last three days -- Bannister ruefully conceded: ''I got my first taste of the Pesky Pole.''
Posted by Art Martone at 11:00 PM | Permalink
High praises for Buchholz
Even though Red Sox pitching prospect Clay Buchholz worked only three innings against the Ottawa Lynx tonight, the opponents were quite impressed with the 22-year-old righthander.
The PawSox’ righthander worked three innings and exactly 50 pitches against Ottawa last night and suffered a no-decision as Pawtucket erased an early three-run deficit en route to a 6-4 victory at McCoy Stadium.
“He’s got a good arm,” said Ottawa manager John Russell, who was ejected from last night’s game in the bottom of the seventh inning. “He changes speeds really well and for his first start in Triple-A I thought he threw the ball really well. Like any pitcher who makes it to the upper levels command is the biggest key and he was commanding the ball pretty well.”
After Buchholz retired the side in order in the first inning, the Lynx scored three runs (two earned) on four hits in the second. Russell said he didn’t think his hitters made any adjustments after seeing the PawSox pitcher in the first, it was just Buchholz had trouble with his location.
“He probably didn’t throw the ball exactly where he wanted it,” said the Ottawa skipper. “That’s what happens and you’re going to have a lot of those [innings] at Triple-A and in the majors because location of your pitches is key a big key, obviously I didn’t talk to him, but I think he would feel the same way that he didn’t quite hit his spots. He has a very good arm and I see him being a very good pitcher.”
Ottawa’s Pedro Swann, who went 0-for-4 on the night and 0-for-2 against Buchholz was quite impressed.
“He had three great pitches working – fastball, curveball and change-up,” said Swann. “He has promise. He has a good arm and three great pitches. With the first three hitters, we got a little bit of a scouting report. I think he got some pitches up against the second group of guys and no matter what kind of stuff you have, you’re going to get in some trouble. He’s young. He’ll learn to keep the ball down, but he has a great future.”
Ottawa’s Randy Ruiz was the batter who belted a two-run homer off Buchholz and also said the young righthander pitches with guts and confidence.
“I tell you what,” said Ruiz, “this guy being a young guy he came right after people. He was really good and he had good stuff tonight. He worked his off-speed a lot and a guy who throws good change-ups and good curveballs, you just have to go out there and try to battle. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to a pitcher like that.”
Ruiz belted a two-run homer off the first offering Buchholz served him in the top of the second inning, but this wasn’t the first time the two have faced each other. Ruiz played for Double-A Altoona and Buchholz for Double-A Portland, so the two have a bit of history and Ruiz said he was ready waiting on a fastball.
“I faced him a few times in the Eastern League and he liked to get ahead of me with his fastball then throw me a lot of off-speed,” admitted Ruiz. “It was just one of those days. I just tried to turn it around and he threw me a nice fat fastball down the middle of the plate and I got a good swing.”
Just because Ruiz faced Boston’s top prospect in the past it’s not like he held court with his teammates before last night’s game to give in in-depth scouting report.
“Everybody has their own plan up there,” he said. “You just got to go out and try to stick to it. For me I just try to see the ball and hit the ball, especially right now because I’m slumping. . . I heard a lot about (Buchholz) and I read a lot about him and when I faced him in Altoona he had some good stuff and shut us down in our ballpark. You can always tell a guy who throws hard and has some good stuff.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 10:45 PM | Permalink
Buchholz in the third
The righthander settled down in this inning and retired the side. He did allow a one-out double to Gary Burham and finished the inning with 15 pitches (10 for strikes).
Buchholz is done for the night after throwing 50 pitches (35 for strikes). He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. He allowed a home run, three singles and a double.
Just some quick thoughts since this is the first time I've seen Buchholz in person:
At first sight in the clubhouse earlier today, he didn't look very big. He's listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, but it doesn't appear he's going to be the type of player who "fills out" as he gets older. Still, he certainly has all the makings of a major league pitcher.
It's clear he has above-average velocity, which he reached 95 on the gun with ease. His 12-to-6 curveball is nasty. His change-up bottoms out in the low 80s and he's able to mix in a slider, too.
I'll have manager Ron Johnson's comments, along with Buchholz after tonight's game. Currently, the Lynx are winning in the top of the fourth inning, 3-2.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 7:49 PM | Permalink
Buchholz in the second
That's the best way to describe Buchholz in the second inning.
He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits, including a home run, a balk and the PawSox made an error behind him. The homer by Ottawa's Randy Ruiz was a blast to dead center field and off the wall, some 410 feet from home plate.
Two of the four hits were bleeders to the opposite field, and PawSox pitching coach Mike Griffin has already made a trip to the mound.
Buchholz threw 22 pitches (16 for strikes).
Posted by Joe McDonald at 7:20 PM | Permalink
Buchholz in the first
It's only been one inning at the Triple-A level, and already Clay Buchholz has been very impressive.
The righthander threw just 13 pitches (nine for strikes) and reached 95 on the gun, including a pair of strikeouts. Not only can he throw the ball hard, he's able to locate it with laser-like accuracy. Plus, his off-speed stuff was really good.
One scout in attendance -- there are a lot of them here tonight -- said Buchholz is the best pitcher he has seen this season.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 6:56 PM | Permalink
Clay Buchholz's Triple-A debut tonight
Red Sox pitching prospect Clay Buchholz will make his Triple-A debut for the PawSox tonight at McCoy Stadium. The righty phenom, who is considered one of the brightest prospects in the minors, will throw just three innings or 50 pitches against the Ottawa Lynx.
The 22-year-old righthander was 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) for Double-A Portland prior to his recent promotion to Pawtucket.
We'll have updates during and after the game. . .
Posted by Joe McDonald at 6:29 PM | Permalink
Leskanic Returns to Sox
Curtis Leskanic, a right-handed reliever who was 3-2 with a 3.58 earned-run average for the Red Sox in their World-Series-winning 2004 season, has rejoined the organization as a pro scouting consultant.
Leskanic, who retired after the 2004 season, pitched in a total of 603 games with Colorado, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Boston from 1993-2004. He went 50-34 with a 4.36 earned-run average and 55 saves.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:02 PM | Permalink
Pregame Tid-Bits, July 16
The report on Curt Schilling dominated manager Terry Francona's pregame media session this afternoon.
The only items of note were contained in the starting lineup.
J.D. Drew, who left Friday night's game in the fourth inning because of a tight right hamstring, is back in the starting lineup tonight in right field, batting first. That dropped Coco Crisp from first to eighth in the order. Crisp went 4 for 7 with two walks, two runs scored and an RBI in the two games Drew missed.
Catcher Jason Varitek, who was held out of Sunday's game because he was banged up from Saturday night's game, also is back in the lineup. Varitek had been hit on the right hand by a Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch in a bit of miscommunication between the pitcher and the catcher.
Dustin Pedroia, who was given Sunday off to get over his All-Star-break illness, is back at second base.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:56 PM | Permalink
Schilling feels "great" after simulated game
Curt Schilling threw a 31-pitch, two-inning simulated game this afternoon at Fenway Park, an effort that was so encouraging, the Red Sox have slated him to throw a rehab outing in Pawtucket on Saturday against Louisville, barring any unexpected setbacks.
And if that outing goes well, Schilling, a 40-year-old right-hander, will make another rehab start for the PawSox five days later in Toledo, according to manager Terry Francona.
Schilling, on the disabled list since June 22 (retroactive to June 19) because of tendinitis in his right shoulder, will throw three innings and/or around 45 pitches Saturday at McCoy Stadium in a game that will begin at 6 o'clock.
Francona didn't want to get ahead of himself beyond that point in detailing the Sox' plan for Schilling, but, if Schilling were to need only two rehab starts, that would put him in line to pitch either July 31 or Aug. 1 at Fenway against Baltimore.
Indeed, Schilling, who said his plan to return may be quicker than that of the protective Red Sox, hinted at that very timetable.
"I want to be healthy when I get back. I want to come back and have an impact, be a trading deadline pickup, in effect," said Schilling.
The trading deadline is July 31.
While that all has to play out, Schilling said after throwing to Alex Cora, Wily Mo Pena, Eric Hinske and Doug Mirabelli that he felt like a different pitcher relative to the one who made 15 starts before having to be placed on the DL.
"I felt great today. My arm didn't feel like it did today at any point earlier in the year. I was throwing 84 (miles an hour) so obviously there was an issue. Everything is working together better now. I'm more in sync," said Schilling, who was 6-4 with a 4.20 earned-run average when he was disabled.
Even when he came within an out of a no-hitter in Oakland on June 7, Schilling said he didn't "feel extraordinary."
"They hit the ball right at people," said Schilling, though he was able to dial up his velocity from the mid-80s to the mid-90s over the final few innings of that game, losing the gem on Shannon Stewart's two-out single to right on a 95-mile-an-hour heater.
Schilling made two more starts, lasting only five innings against Colorado (June 13)and 4 1/3 against Atlanta (June 18), surrendering a total of 11 earned runs on 19 hits in those 9 1/3 innings before going on the DL.
Francona said he saw a different pitcher yesterday than he had been seeing earlier this year.
"He threw the ball better in the bullpen (Friday) and today than at any point since the moment he arrived in spring training," said Francona. "He pitched some good games (earlier this season), but he wasn't bouncing back like we need him to."
Schilling said the Sox training staff has altered his workout program for shoulder strength and stability, and that the change has brought his arm around "quicker than expected."
So now Schilling will throw a normal between-starts side session on Wednesday and get ready for his Saturday start in Pawtucket.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:29 PM | Permalink
Starting Lineups, July 16
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:26 PM | Permalink
Schilling to Rehab in Pawtucket Saturday
Curt Schilling finished up a 31-pitch, two-inning simulated game a short time ago.
The right-hander, who has been on the disabled list since June 19, said he was feeling "great" after the workout, in which he threw to Eric Hinske, Alex Cora, Wily Mo Pena and Doug Mirabelli.
Manager Terry Francona said the next step for Schilling, after a side session on Wednesday, will be a rehab start in Pawtucket on Saturday night, a 6 o'clock game at McCoy Stadium against Louisville. He will work three innings and/or 45 pitches, roughly.
Francona said that, if all goes well with that outing, Schilling will be pitching for the PawSox in Toledo on Thursday, July 26.
He was not ready to announce any plans beyond that.
More to come.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:20 PM | Permalink
Sorry, no SoxTalk today
There will be no Projo SoxTalk with Art Martone today. Our audio show should be back tomorrow, and as always, there's our archives to check out.
Posted by Pam Cotter at 11:04 AM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Monday, July 16
NOW HERE'S SOMETHING YOU DON'T SEE EVERY DAY: Prior to yesterday, the Red Sox had lavished plenty of offensive support on Josh Beckett: 6.8 runs per start, the highest of any Boston pitcher. But that wasn't the case on a windy, sunny Sunday afternoon at Fenway, as the Sox squandered chance after chance and fell to the Blue Jays, 2-1, making a hard-luck loser out of their ace. (Above, Alex Cora reacts to being wiped out on a double play in the third inning; Journal photo by Bob Breidenbach.) Strange, too, because the night before the power was on in a 9-4 victory. Another sight you don't see every day: Doug Mirabelli being allowed to bat in the ninth inning with the game on the line. But, as Steven Krasner explains in Inside The Game, Jason Varitek was still hurting from a tough Saturday night and manager Terry Francona said using him wasn't an option. (All stories projo.com)
AS ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS: A frustrated Brendan Donnelly is headed to California to try and find out what's wrong with his ailing forearm. But his job is being handled nicely by Manny Delcarmen, so the Sox bullpen hasn't missed a beat. (Both stories projo.com)
COME SEE THE FUTURE: Clay Buchholz makes his PawSox debut tonight at McCoy Stadium. (projo.com) If you can't make it there, come here; we'll post live blog reports from Joe McDonald.
MBM, AGAIN: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer shares some Manny being Manny stories from Ramirez' days in Cleveland.
NEW MEANING: Writing for foxsports.com, Chad Finn says MBM really means Manny Being Mediocre.
DO IT: Writing this time on his own blog (touchingallthebases.blogspot.com), Finn says if the Rangers offer Mark Teixeira for Jon Lester, Theo Epstein shouldn't hesitate to say yes.
WHAT IF . . . all the transactions the Red Sox talked about in the 2003-04 offseason had happened? Then, Seth Mnookin points out, the Sox would currently have a 3-4-5 batting order of Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Magglio Ordonez. (sethmnookin.com)
IT COULD STILL HAPPEN: At least the A-Rod-to-Boston part could, according to the blog Fire Brand of the American League.
WE MADE IT: The Phillies finally lost their 10,000th game. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
HERE WE COME . . . AGAIN: The Twins, who made stirring second-half comebacks in 2003 and 2006, think another one's in the offing. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
AND HERE WE COME: The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by nine games (eight in the loss column) after yesterday's 7-6 win over the Devil Rays. (New York Daily News)
YOU TELL ME, BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW: Writing on the LoHud Yankees Blog, Peter Abraham wonders why the Yankees continue to use Kyle Farnsworth in tight games.
NO SURPRISE: Joe Torre tells the New York Daily News this has been the toughest of his 12 seasons as Yankee manager. It didn't get any easier when Kenny Lofton backed up Gary Sheffield's assertion that Torre treats black players different than white players. (New York Post)
BUYER BEWARE: Brad Lidge, the subject of many trade rumors (including some that have him landing in Boston), will likely have to wear a knee brace for the rest of the season. (Houston Chronicle)
YOU'RE ONLY AS OLD AS YOU FEEL: The Braves are interested in 48-year-old Julio Franco. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) And the more he thinks about it, AJC beat writer Dave O'Brien likes the idea.
FATHERLY PRIDE: Cecil Fielder follows the exploits of his son Prince closely, even though the two are estranged. (Florida Today)
HERE AND THERE: Worcester's own Tanyon Sturtze, known as WOTS on various bulletin boards and who was front and center in the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry of 2003-04, could be resurfacing with the Braves very soon (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) . . . Elijah Dukes has been away from the Devil Rays for three weeks dealing with personal issues, and it doesn't sound like he'll be back anytime soon (Tampa Tribune) . . . Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says it's time for Giants GM Brian Sabean to clean house . . . Brewer ace Ben Sheets may miss his next start because of an injured middle finger (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) . . . The Astros are easing Craig Biggio out of the lineup, and Baseball Musing's David Pinto thinks that's a good idea.
TAKE ME HIGHER: Baseball Reference now has a tool in which readers can place players' seasons and careers into different historical environments, so Joe Posnanski took some of the greatest individual years in history and placed them in Coors Field, 2000. (thesoulofbaseball.blogspot.com) Among the highlights: Barry Bonds would have hit 98 home runs in 2001, and Stan Musial would have hit .429 in 1948.
WHISPERS: Jose Contreras says the swirling trade speculation doesn't bother him (Chicago Tribune) . . . The Rangers' Kenny Lofton and Sammy Sosa are beginning to draw trade interest (Dallas Morning News) . . . The Royals' Octovio Dotel is raising his trade value (Kansas City Star) . . . The Tigers are on the prowl for relief help (Detroit Free Press) . . . The Padres are looking for a starting pitcher and a bench player (San Diego Union-Tribune) . . .
OLD FRIENDS: Eric Wedge is about to get a contract extension from the Indians (Cleveland Plain Dealer) . . . A four-hit day yesterday lifted Edgar Renteria's overall average to .327, and his average in day games to .385 (Tlanta Journal-Constitution) . . . John Wasdin has been designated for assignment by the Pirates (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) . . . Doug Mientkiewicz probably won't return to the Yankees until mid-August (Newsday) . . . Pedro Martinez is close to being ready to pitch in a minor-league game (New York Daily News) . . . David Eckstein says his bad back is feeling better (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:19 AM | Permalink