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July 20, 2007
Sox win wild one at Fenway, 10-3
BOSTON - A game that began ominously for the Red Sox last night eventually turned in their favor and resulted in a 10-3 blowout win over the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox carried a three-game losing streak into the contest and with ace pitcher Josh Beckett on the mound needed a victory as badly as they had in months. After getting jobbed out of a 3-run home run by J.D. Drew in the first inning, Boston recovered and scored four runs in the fifth inning and five more in the eighth to sail to the win.
Beckett left after allowing three runs over six innings (114 pitches) and turned the ball over to the Sox’ red-hot bullpen. Mike Timlin, Hideki Okajima and Joel Pineiro combined to shut out the White Sox over the final three frames and preserve the victory for Beckett, who improved to 13-3.
``This is a team that’s going to go on feeling,’’ said Julio Lugo, who went 3-for-4 including a grand slam homer in the eighth inning. ``Today was a good sign, good pitching, good hitting. That’s the way we have to play.’’
The win, coupled with the Yankees’ loss to Tampa Bay, extends Boston’s lead in the A.L. East to eight games.
The fates seemed stacked against the Sox after a bizarre play in the first inning. With David Ortiz on second base and Manny Ramirez at first, Drew lined a Jose Contreras pitch high to left-center. The ball clearly struck the wire ledge that sits just below the Monster Seats but the umpires didn’t signal home run. The White Sox threw home and cut down Ramirez who wasn’t running hard because he thought he saw the ball go out for a homer. Ortiz scored the only run on the play but Terry Francona shot out of the dugout and vehemently argued the call. He was eventually ejected by third base umpire Tim McClelland, who was booed mercilessly the rest of the game by the fans.
Drew, incidentally, stroked another Wall double in the eighth inning. Entering the game, he had just three hits off the Monster all season.
``I’ve been talking ad nausea about getting a two-out hit and to take two runs off the board is not easy to take,’’ said Francona. ``I’m very thankful we came back and played a great game after that.’’
Chicago seemed to receive a rush off the lucky break and hit Beckett up for three runs in the third when Jim Thome smacked a 3-run homer to left field. It was Thome’s 20th homer at Fenway in his career, the most by any active player.
Trailing 3-1 entering the fifth, the Red Sox benefited in a major way from some questionable White Sox strategy. Boston’s leadoff man, Jason Varitek, walked. With Contreras pitching to Eric Hinske (.196 average), Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen chose to align his defense in an Ortiz-line shift for some unknown reason. Hinske then wisely set down a chopping bunt to where third baseman Josh Fields should have been but wasn’t and cruised to first with a base hit.
With Francona back in the clubhouse, bench coach Brad Mills stayed with the small ball routine and Julio Lugo laid down a bunt that he beat out when Contreras’ throw to first sailed a bit high. The two bunts loaded the bases with none out and Coco Crisp came through by slapping a bases-clearing triple past Paul Konerko and into the right-field corner.
Guillen had his defense back in the shift when Ortiz came to the plate with one out. Ortiz grounded hard towards the first base bag but Konerko failed to cover the line and the ball scooted into right field to allow Crisp to sail home with the fourth run of the inning.
``He said his heart was racing. He’d never (bunted) before,’’ Crisp said of Hinske’s bunt. ``We came up with a big inning when we needed it.’’
With a 5-3 lead, Beckett retired the Sox in order in the sixth and then gave way to the bullpen. Timlin and Okajima set the next six White Sox down easily and Boston was prepared to send Jonathan Papelbon out for the ninth. But the Red Sox weren’t done scoring. The Sox loaded the bases off Contreras (5-12) and Lugo blasted a grand slam high over the Green Monster in left for a 10-3 lead. The hit set Papelbon down and Pineiro came on and ended things quietly in the ninth.
Posted by Thom Cahir at 10:47 PM to McNamara
Bailey, Hansack star in 6-4 PawSox win
PAWTUCKET – Pawtucket righty Devern Hansack earned his team-leading seventh win of the season last night and his sixth win in a row.
He has teammate Jeff Bailey to thank for that.
Bailey led an explosive PawSox offense that amassed 10 hits by going 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and four RBI to power Pawtucket to a 6-4 victory over Louisville.
“You get a guy like that hot, a production guy like him and [David] Murphy right now, they can kind of carry you,” Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson said.
Bailey and Murphy carried Pawtucket last night. Murphy was 2-for-4 with a solo home run.
Hansack pitched six innings, scattered five hits, allowed four runs, and struckout nine.
“He’s been pretty dirty all year just look at his ERA and strikeout totals,” Johnson said of Hansack, who is 7-6 with a 3.35 ERA. “What I like about Devern is the development of his changeup. His changeup is becoming a big time swing and miss pitch. His arm speed is right along the lines with his fastball…Devern Hansack is as consistent as you can get.”
Hansack only made two mistakes last night. Louisville hit a home run on both of them. One was a three-run shot by Joey Votto. The other was a solo home run by Chris Dickerson.
“Devern gave up a couple of home runs but that was just because he was being aggressive,” Bailey said. “That was fine because we still kept the lead.”
“He only made two mistakes and they did what you are supposed to do with mistakes,” Johnson said. “They smoked them…But they are good hitters though. Votto is a good hitter. He makes me nervous every time he comes to the plate. Dickerson has hit a couple of homers against us. He’s a big strong kid. But we got enough early to hold on.”
Despite Louisville’s two home runs, the Bats never led in the game. The PawSox jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on four two-out hits and never looked back.
After Bobby Scales (1-for-2, 2 runs scored, walk, hit by pitch) and Michael Tucker (2-for-4, double, run scored) both singled, Brandon Moss drove-in Scales with a single hit down the first-base line, putting runners on first and third base.
Bailey then sent a Richie Gardner offering into the bullpen in left field for a three-run home run. It was his second three-run home run in as many nights, and his 12th home run of the season.
“It was the pitcher’s mistake,” Bailey said. “I think he was trying to sink it but it didn’t sink much. I got it. It’s nice to get that kind of lead early in the game.”
David Murphy led off the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run for Pawtucket to give the PawSox a 5-0 cushion.
After Scales walked, he sprinted to third base on a Tucker double. Bailey drove-in Scales with an RBI single to center field to make it 6-0.
Votto cut Pawtucket’s lead in half with a three-run home run in the top of the fourth inning.
After Hansack struckout the side in the fifth, Dickerson hit a sixth-inning lead-off home run and Pawtucket’s lead fell to 6-4. But Hansack did not allow another hit after that.
Louisville had a chance to win the game in the top of the ninth inning when former Boston star Mark Bellhorn (2004, 2005) came up to bat with two outs and a runner on first and second base, but Pawtucket closer Travis Hughes struck him out to earn the save.
Posted by Thom Cahir at 10:34 PM to PawSox
It's been this kind of a week for the Red Sox.
J.D. Drew appeared to hit a 3-run home run in the first inning but umpires blew the call and only one run scored. Here's what happened.
With David Ortiz on second base and Manny Ramirez at first, Drew lined a Jose Contreras pitch high to left-center. The ball clearly struck the wire ledge that sits just below the Monster Seats but the umpires didn't signal home run. The White Sox threw home where Ramirez wasn't running hard because he thought he saw the ball go out for a homer. He was called out for the third out, ending the inning. Ortiz scored and the Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead.
Terry Francona vehemently argued the call and was ejected by Tim McClelland.
Posted by Kevin at 7:40 PM | Permalink
Bring Food to Fenway on Weekend
The 16th annual Red Sox Wives Can and Cash Drive takes place before this weekend's games.
Fans are asked to help the Greater Boston Food Bank by bringing canned food items or making a cash donation as they enter Fenway Park. The Red Sox wives will be near the gates to accept the donations.
Also, fans who can never get tickets to the Red Sox can come to Fenway Sunday afternoon and watch the New England Collegiate All-Star Game. The game will be played an hour after the conclusion of the Red Sox-White Sox game that begins at 2:05. Tickets are $5.
Posted by Kevin at 6:00 PM | Permalink
Pre-Game Sox Stuffers
** The Red Sox have lost three straight games entering tonight's battle with the White Sox at Fenway. The Sox haven't lost four straights since June 3-6 (Yankees, three at Oakland). To help stop the streak, the Sox are in a closed door team meeting right now. We were not invited in to listen.
The three straight defeats at Fenway Park matches the season high. Boston is 7-9 in July and a rather mundane 40-30 (57%) since starting the season with a blazing 52-35 streak.
** Terry Francona is giving Kevin Youkilis a night off but playing JD Drew. Youkilis is riding a 3-for-27 (.111) skid since his return from an injury to his left quadriceps. Youkilis is just 5-for-37 (.135) in his career against the White Sox.
**It's been a season-long strength for the Red Sox but here are the next three starting pitchers Francona will send out: Kason Gabbard, Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavares. Cross your fingers, Sox fans.
**On an extremely positive note, over the last 17 games, the Red Sox bullpen owns a 1.79 ERA. The Sox have converted their last 8 save situations.
Posted by Kevin at 5:46 PM | Permalink
RSox-WSox Lineups; JD in, Youk out
Here are the lineups for tonight's Red Sox-White Sox game @ Fenway Park
C. Crisp CF
D. Pedroia 2B
D. Ortiz DH
M. Ramirez LF
JD Drew RF
M. Lowell 3B
J. Varitek C
E. Hinske 1B
J. Lugo SS
Josh Beckett P
J. Owens CF
T. Iguchi 2B
J. Thome DH
P. Konerko 1B
AJ Pierzynski C
J. Dye RF
R. Mackowiak LF
J. Fields 3B
J. Uribe SS
Jose Contreras P
Posted by Kevin at 4:59 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk: Frustrations are evident on the field
Art Martone and Sean McAdam are calling the Red Sox' post-All Star Game slide a slump, and say in spite of what the players say, their frustrations are evident on the field. It's all on today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the audio file.
What's the answer? Our experts map out the options.
Posted by Pam Cotter at 11:38 AM to Martone
Baseball Today: Friday, July 20
BRAVEHEARTS: That's the impression the Red Sox are trying to put forth in light of their 20-24 slide since May 30, a slide that continued last night with a rain-delayed 4-2 loss to the White Sox (above, Journal photo by Bob Breidenbach). Joe McDonald writes the Sox ''were calm and collected [before the game], and the clubhouse was much of the same following the loss.'' (projo.com) Julio Lugo even went so far as to implore reporters ''not to panic'' (Boston Herald), though it's not the media doing any panicking. It's hard to say the fans are, either, since the lead is still seven games. Maybe it's best summed up by old friend Allan Wood: ''Panic? No. Nothing even close to panic. Annoyance? Yes. I'm plenty annoyed.'' (joyofsox.blogspot.com)
AND WHO ARE YOU ANNOYED WITH? Let's start with J.D. Drew, who, according to Sean McAdam, is becoming ''[a] target of fans . . . a repository for their frustration with the team’s month-long slide into undistinguished play.'' (projo.com) Drew hasn't been the hitter the Sox thought they were getting, but in one way he's lived up to every expectation: ''[His] frequent absenteeism,'' writes Sean, ''has only helped reinforce the notion that Drew is too quick to come out of the lineup . . . It’s not the prolonged stints on the disabled list that test teams’ patience; it’s the frequent one- and two-day absences that can be so infuriating.'' Last night was another, even though he has a career average of .391 against the White Sox' starter, Javier Vazquez. ''More than one teammate yesterday afternoon, taking note of [Drew's] exclusion from the lineup card, managed to roll his eyes in response,'' writes Sean.
|NEXT IN LINE: Kevin Youkilis' effort is never called into question, but his results have been steadily declining; he's 3-for-27 since the All-Star break. (Boston Globe) He made perhaps the most crucial out of last night's game: With two on and two out in the seventh and the Sox trailing 3-2, Youkilis -- moments after Manny Ramirez had come within two feet of belting a three-run homer into the Boston bullpen -- struck out on four pitches (right, Journal photo by Bob Breidenbach), ending the inning and the Red Sox' last threat. Terry Francona thinks it's just a slump (''Every hitter goes through periods, that's why a lot of hitters don't hit .400. That's just the way the game is. Youk always gives you a good at-bat, regardless of how he feels at the plate."), and it probably is, but it's beginning to stir memories of Youkilis' second-half slowdown last year . . . just as the Sox' struggles are stirring memories of their second-half glide to nowhere in 2006.|
LONG TIME COMING: The eighth-inning homer allowed by Hideki Okajima (top picture) was the first he's given up since Opening Day. (projo.com notebook) Also worth noting: Julian Tavarez is working with Jason Varitek to get out of his slump,
I WOULD HAVE LIKED IT HERE: Mark Buehrle wound up staying with the White Sox, but said he wouldn't have minded if the rumored trade to Boston had come through. (Boston Herald)
IN THE HUNT: The Kansas City Star reports the Red Sox are one of a number of teams -- the others include the Dodgers, Indians, Tigers and Braves -- who have interest in Octovio Dotel. The Sox are also said to be monitoring Rockies reliever Brian Fuentes (Denver Post).
MEANWHILE . . . The lead is still seven because the Yankees let one get away yesterday, squandering a 2-0 seventh-inning lead and losing to the Blue Jays, 3-2. (New York Post) It was only their fourth loss in 15 games, but it prompted immediate warnings from Bill Madden of the Daily News and Larry Brooks of the Post that, in the situation they're in, the Yankees can't afford to be giving games away.
MAYBE IT'S ALL THOSE VOODOO DOLLS IN RED SOX NATION: Johnny Damon says he feels great, so he can't understand why he's in such a deep slump. (New York Daily News) But even though his average is down to .233, he wants to remain in the leadoff spot. (New York Post)
BORE-ING: More and more, we're hearing this may be one of the dullest trade-deadline periods ever. Jayson Stark of ESPN explains why.
HAND 'EM OVER: The Yankees are aggressively seeking help in the trade market, but one N.L. scout says, ''The Yankees don't want to give up the kids, and if they don't do that, they aren't going to get anything.'' (New York Post)
GETTING CLOSER: Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald recounts a strange day at Wrigley Field, where Barry Bonds hit two home runs and moved within two of Hank Aaron's record.
GHOST TALES: Major league teams tell tales of a hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla., that's alleged to be haunted, and the Angels have stories to add to the lore. (Riverside Press-Enterprise)
YOU'RE A WRITER, NOT A FAN: A Japanese sports writer had his credentials revoked by the Baseball Writers Association of America for asking Roger Clemens for an autograph. (sportingnews.com)
HAIRY SITUATION: The blog Bugs and Cranks looks at the best Afros in baseball history. Some contemporary players actually make the grade.
HOME SWEET HOME: That's how Julio Franco feels about Atlanta. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU JUST DON'T SAY: Pirates starter Ian Snell apologized to the Rockies for saying he would ''kill that dude'' -- a Colorado player he wouldn't name -- who he thought was stealing his signs in Wednesday night's game. Even so, MLB is launching an investigation and discipline may follow. (Denver Post)
TO THE SIDELINES: Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter needs Tommy John surgery. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
TO THE FIELD: The Dodgers' Randy Wolf is eyeing an Aug. 1 return (Los Angeles Daily News) . . . Moises Alou could be back in the Mets' outfield by next week (New York Post).
ONE LESS BELL TO ANSWER: The pool of available relievers diminished by one when the Rangers put Akinori Otsuka on the disabled list, all but guaranteeing they won't be able to trade him by July 31.
WHISPERS: Many teams would like the Nationals' Chad Cordero as a setup man in their bullpen, but a N.L. executive thinks the Nats should attempt to get closers' value for him (Washington Post) . . . Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press wouldn't be surprised if the Twins trade closer Joe Nathan, if not now then in the offseason . . . Dmitri Young to the Twins? (St. Paul Pioneer-Press) . . . The Star-Ledger's Dan Graziano reports the Yankees are interested in the Royals' Zack Greinke, and have rebuffed the Mariners' inquiries about Andy Pettitte . . .
OLD FRIENDS: Derek Lowe said he was pitching ''live batting practice'' when he got lit up by the Mets last night . . . So was Mike Maroth in the Cardinals' loss to the Braves (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) . . . Mike Myers is back in the groove in New York (New York Daily News) . . . On the same day he returned to the lineup, the Cubs' Cliff Floyd was forced back to the bench because of a sore neck (AP via projo.com) . . . Bobby Howry recorded his seventh save for the Cubs, but will probably move back to a setup role when Ryan Dempster returns today (AP via projo.com) . . . The ever-recovering Wade Miller will make another minor-league rehab start tonight (Chicago Tribune) . . . Dustan Mohr is out of a job in Tampa Bay (Tampa Tribune) . . . Josh Bard had his three-game suspension reduced to two games, and he began serving it last night (AP via projo.com).
And this is the last word you'll hear from me until August 6; I'm headed out to vacation. Mike McDermott will be handling this portion of the blog for the next two weeks, so check back daily. See you when I return.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:00 AM | Permalink
FINAL: Chicago 4, Boston 2
By JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- There’s no need for anyone to Google directions for how to tie a noose.
Or is there?
Despite losing their third game in a row, the Boston Red Sox are not showing signs of panic. Prior to their 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox last night at Fenway Park, the players were calm and collective and the clubhouse was much of the same following the defeat.
Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka dropped his record to 11-7 after allowing three runs on two hits in five innings, plus four batters, of work as Boston’s offense once again failed to drive in runs. The Sox were able to bang out 11 hits, but couldn’t produce in the crucial situations.
''In his first couple of hitters he was in his delivery so well,'' said Boston manager Terry Francona about Matsuzaka. ''The ball was coming out of his hand so crisp and then he ran through some spots where all his walks were grouped in innings where he didn’t command for say 15 pitches. He pitched himself into a box where he gave up a single and it was a couple of runs. They certainly weren’t hitting him all over the ballpark.''
Because Matsuzaka is so regimented in his preparation, and was not used to games being delayed while he played in Japan, last night’s 1:56 delay could have had an affect on his performance but he wasn’t about to make any excuses.
''Just from the outset tonight I wasn’t able to throw any strikes,'' said Matsuzaka, who finished with 109 pitches (63 for strikes). ''That was the difference. . . I didn’t feel there was a particular affect [due to the delay]. I felt my stuff was okay tonight, I just wasn’t able to control it very well.''
Even though he only allowed two hits, Dice-K said because of his season-high six walks, it felt more like he surrendered eight hits.
Speaking of hits, Boston had plenty of them. The Sox just didn’t have the runs.
With two runners on and the Sox trailing by a run in the seventh inning, Manny Ramirez smoked a high liner to deep center field that looked like it had enough to get out. Unfortunately, it was to the deepest part of the field and White Sox centerfielder Jerry Owens was able to track it down right at the corner of the Red Sox bullpen for the second out of the inning.
''Unfortunately, a lot of hits and not a lot of runs,'' said Francona when asked about the offense. ''It’s something we need to . . . if Manny’s shot goes another foot the other way then I’m up here, saying ‘wow it’s nice to get a big hit like that.’ That was a very, very good swing. We just came up empty and it hurts.''
There’s been one common theme around these parts of late.
Can the Red Sox right the ship, stop the surging New York Yankees and keep their lead in the A.L. East standings safe?
While Red Sox Nation and the local sports-talk shows dwell on this more than if there was a third gunman on the grassy knoll, the proof could be found in the Red Sox clubhouse yesterday afternoon. The Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays played a day game and New York was trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Almost everyone in the Red Sox clubhouse were intently watching the game, waiting to see if the Bronx Bombers could come back and cut their deficit in the standings even closer. Those people paying attention to the game were the 50 or so media members.
Not one Red Sox player was watching, only a handful of team personnel.
In fact, it was almost an hour later when Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon walked through the clubhouse and asked who had won the game. When told it was the Blue Jays, he turned and said sarcastically to the wall of media members, ''Can we all breathe now?'' and followed that statement up with an expletive.
It was an interesting scene.
The fact of the matter remains, however, if the Red Sox can’t get a winning streak started and the Yankees continue to roll, well . . . somebody needed to get things going for Boston.
The Red Sox looked to Matsuzaka to stop the bleeding.
Dice-K has an army-like regimen when it comes to his game preparation, but because of last night’s inclement weather the game was delayed 1:56. It didn’t seem to bother him too much.
The first-year Red Sox pitcher made his 20th start of the season against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway and after a shaky 32-pitch first inning where he allowed one run and issued two walks, Dice-K settled down.
He retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced and thanks to a two-run second inning for Boston, Matsuzaka held a one-run lead after five innings. He also posted six strikeouts through the first five.
In the top of the sixth, however, Matsuzaka faltered.
He walked the bases loaded before surrendering a two-run single to Chicago’s A.J. Pierzynski and Francona had seen enough and gave his starter the hook, replacing him with reliever Manny Delcarmen. Dice-K finished five innings plus four batters, allowing a total of three runs on two hits with six strikeouts and a season-high six walks.
Chicago held a 3-2 lead until the top of the eighth inning when Paul Konerko belted a leadoff homer off Sox lefty Hideki Okajima that landed in the Monster seats. It was the first home run he had allowed since his major-league debut on April 2 at Kansas City when John Buck hit a roundtripper. Konerko’s blast also snapped Okajima’s 17-inning scoreless streak.
Even before that point, the Red Sox needed a solid outing from Dice-K.
Matsuzaka entered last night’s game with an 11-6 record with a 3.94 ERA with the Sox in his first season in the majors. He began the season as expected as a firestorm and completed dominated en route to a 7-2 record in his first nine starts. Entering last night’s game, however, he evened off a little bit and posted a 4-4 mark in his last nine starts.
Is there a trend here?
Opposing clubs obviously have better scouting reports on Matsuzaka now that the season is into the second half. He had the advantage at the start of the season, but now he’s had to make adjustments and proved he can do that successfully last night against the White Sox.
After Boston won the bidding war last offseason and subsequently signed the Japanese sensation, there was a lot of pressure on the Sox and their newest pitcher to produce. There were a lot of outside distractions to deal with, but there hasn’t been any negative effect on the baseball side of the deal.
When asked if he thought Dice-K and the club have finally reached a point where the sides have jelled, Francona said it tough to figure.
''Because of the language barrier we’re still getting there,'' he said. ''We’re still learning because we can’t have that conversation in the outfield [during batting practice] about your hometown. It’s a project and it’s a lot of hard work on his part because he’s the one [trying] to speak English.''
Francona wanted to make it clear the most important thing on the club’s mind at the start of Dice-K mania, and all of the outside distractions, the Red Sox put winning first and foremost.
''I think we’ve accomplished that right from the beginning,'' added the manager. ''The comfort level is getting stronger and stronger. I don’t know if you ever get to 100 percent with anybody, we’re always trying to get better.''
Just in case anyone is wondering how to make a noose, make a simple knot and . . .
Posted by Joe McDonald at 1:26 AM | Permalink