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July 24, 2007
Dice-K out-duels Sabathia for 1-0 win
CLEVELAND _ There are pitching matchups, then there are pitching duels.
Jacobs Field was the setting last night for this good old fashion clash between Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka and Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia, and in the end it was the Red Sox who came away with a 1-0 margin of victory with Dice-K leading the way. Boston has now won five straight to equal its longest winning streak of the season.
Matsuzaka worked seven solid scoreless innings, allowing four hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Sabathia was just as strong, also working seven with the one run and seven strikeouts.
“That’s a good lineup,” said Boston manager Terry Francona. “That’s a major-league game pitched by both guys. You’re not going to see too many 1-0 games here against that lineup.”
Francona said Matsuzaka’s repertoire, especially his curveball and cutter were extremely sharp last night, calling Dice-K’s 21st start of the season strong.
“I’m grateful for the one run my teammates were able to score, and that obviously made the difference,” said Matsuzaka. “Since we’ve won a lot of games in a row coming in, I’m very glad I didn’t stop the winning streak.”
Even though one run proved to be the difference for Boston, the Sox’ defense was spectacular last night. In fact every position player made at least one difficult play look routine.
“There’s not a play in a 1-0 game that’s not big,” admitted Francona. “You have to make every one in a game like that.”
With both opposing starting pitchers locked in, Boston was able to push a run across in the top of the fourth inning as Mike Lowell’s two-out soft liner to left field dropped in, allowing Kevin Youkilis to score for the 1-0 advantage.
“When we scored that one run, at the time you don’t know if it’ll hold up,” said Francona. “It looked like (Cleveland left fielder Ben Francisco) broke back a step, and fortunately it was one step enough because that’s all we had. Sabathia threw the ball great.”
With the Red Sox protecting a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Indians’ Ben Francisco lead off with a single to left field to set up a possible sacrifice bunt for Josh Barfield. He was able to get the bunt down, but Youkilis made a heads-up play, snaring the ball and getting the force out at second. With two outs, Barfield stole second but was left stranded to secure Boston’s marginal lead.
“That was a great play,” said Francona. “That’s a play that not a lot of first basemen attempt, let alone make it. How do you know at the time what is going to be enough? That’s why you play a good defensive game, you get good pitching, the team looks crisp then you score one and it’s enough. It ended up being a good night.”
The Red Sox had a chance to add to its lead in the eighth when Julio Lugo provided a one-out double to left field only to be stranded. With the hit, he extended his streak to 14 games to tie a career-high.
Boston bullpen kingpins, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon, kept the Cleveland bats at bay in the final two innings en route to victory. Okajima retired the side in order in the eighth and Papelbon did the same to earn his 23rd save of the season.
Matsuzaka said after the game he felt he was just finding his groove and wanted to continue, but Francona had other thoughts.
“By my own count I was not quite at 100 pitches,” said Matsuzaka. “I felt okay to continue to pitch in the eighth inning, but the manager came up to me and said ‘Okajima and Papelbon would take it from here’ and when you hear those names it’s tough to argue. My goal going forward is to continue to work hard and ease the burden on our great bullpen.”
Sabathia was attempting to win his 14th game of the season, while Matsuzaka was just going about his normal routine as he improved to 12-7 in his first year in the majors.
His regimen is unique as he works harder on the day of a start probably more so then he does during an outing. Yesterday afternoon at The Jake, Matsuzaka made his way onto the field around 2:15 p.m. and threw a couple of shadow pitches on the mound before starting his lengthy running program. Francona said Dice-K is pretty consistent with his game-day routine.
After he was done running, the sweat was pouring from his forehead, something you don’t see from the traditional major-league pitchers, who normally rest the day of a start.
“That’s something I wish would rub off on our culture,” said Francona of Matsuzaka’s routine. “I know there are ways to try to meet in the middle. I could never understand, pitchers are a different breed and I don’t understand them to begin with, but you see some guys are sleeping at 6:30 and then 20 minutes later they have the biggest day of their week.”
Matsuzaka continues to display that his methods work.
Posted by Thom Cahir at 11:08 PM to McDonald
Moss comes up big again in 3-2 win for PawSox
TOLEDO, Ohio — Brandon Moss was challenged twice in Pawtucket’s game against the Toledo Mud Hens last night.
He rose to the challenge each time, delivering two hits that produced a pair of RBI in a 3-2 victory at Fifth Third Field.
Moss blooped a single over a drawn-in infield to score a run in the fourth, then delivered a clutch run-scoring triple in the ninth to give the PawSox their eighth win in the last 11 games.
“Mossie came up big for us twice,” PawSox manager Ron Johnson said. “But he’s been doing that for us all season, and that’s why he has the numbers he has.”
Pawtucket’s ninth-inning rally began with Michael Tucker’s leadoff single off Toledo closer Aquilino Lopez. Moss fell behind in the count, 0-2, then worked the count full and fouled off another pitch before slamming a triple to straight-away center that scored Tucker.
“I fell behind when I (fouled off) a couple of fastballs,” Moss said. “But he got me back in the count when he missed his spot a couple of times. Then, at 3-2, he threw a good slider, and I was fortunate to foul it off.
“Then he threw me another fastball, and fortunately I didn’t miss that one.”
Even though the PawSox eventually stranded Moss at third, Johnson liked the way his team found a way to score the game-winning run in the ninth.
“Mike had a really good at-bat there because we needed a hit (to start a rally),” Johnson said. “Then with a 3-2 (count to Moss), you kind of roll the dice (and send the runner).
“You have your best hitter at the plate, so why not? If he does something like he did, and gets the ball in the gap, we have a chance to create something.”
If he misses (the pitch), it’s none on and two out. Hang with them.”
The rally came too late to make a winner of starter Mike Burns, who deserved better after a rough start. After retiring the leadoff batter, Burns allowed Henry Mateo to slam his first home run of the season over the fence in right.
Burns then retired the next 10 Mud Hens in a row, setting down 17 of 19 before Toledo tied the game off him in the bottom of the seventh. Jack Hannahan opened the frame with a long fly to deep left-center that went off the glove of Bobby Scales and bounced against the wall before falling to the ground for a double. Hannahan took third on a flyout by Chris Shelton, then came home on a long sacrifice fly to right by Brent Clevlen.
“Mike has done an outstanding job [in the rotation], just getting better and better,” Johnson said. “The last game he went into the sixth with a two-hitter.
“And I thought he did a great job of damage control [in the seventh]. Bobby Scales probably would be the first one to tell you he should have caught the ball, but Michael didn’t let the game speed up (and gave up just one run).”
The PawSox scored their first run in the fourth inning off Toledo starter Jordan Tata. David Murphy opened the frame with a single, then took second on Tucker’s groundout.
Murphy moved to third on a wild pitch, then trotted home when Moss blooped a single over the drawn-in infield.
Pawtucket got an unearned run in the fifth when George Kottaras led off with a double, then came around to score when Tata fielded a Ed Rogers sacrifice bunt by Ed Rogers but threw wildly to first.
Craig Hansen relieved Burns after the Hens tied the game in the seventh and picked up the win with 11/3 scoreless innings, while Bryan Corey retired the Mud Hens in order in the ninth to claim his first save of the season.
And Moss said that combination of good pitching and timely hitting has been the key to the recent success of the PawSox.
“Our bats are finally starting to heat up,” Moss said. “We’ve had good pitching all year, but in the early part of the year we’d get three or four hits and not score any runs. It was a tough time. Now our bats have heated up and we’ve been able to pick up our pitchers a little bit.”
Special to the Journal
Posted by Thom Cahir at 11:04 PM to PawSox
Dice-K solid in pitching battle
Red Sox manager Terry Francona on Dice-K's outing:
“That’s a good lineup. That’s a major-league game pitched by both guys. You’re not going to see too many 1-0 games here against that lineup.”
Dice-K on his outing:
“I’m grateful for the one run my teammates were able to score, and that obviously made the difference. Since we’ve won a lot of games in a row coming in, I’m very glad I didn’t stop the winning streak.”
Francona on the defense:
“There’s not a play in a 1-0 game that’s not big. You have to make every one in a game like that.”
“When we scored that one run, at the time you don’t know if it’ll hold up. It looked like (Cleveland left fielder Ben Francisco) broke back a step, and fortunately it was one step enough because that’s all we had. Sabathia threw the ball great.”
Dice-K on coming out after seven innings:
“By my own count I was not quite at 100 pitches. I felt okay to continue to pitch in the eighth inning, but the manager came up to me and said ‘Okajima and Papelbon would take it from here’ and when you hear those names it’s tough to argue. My goal going forward is to continue to work hard and ease the burden on our great bullpen.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 11:01 PM | Permalink
*Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling (shoulder tendinitis) is on the road with team, but will travel to Toledo, which is a little more than an hour from Cleveland, to make his second rehab start for the PawSox on Thursday.
The veteran right-hander is scheduled to throw 65 pitches, and if everything goes as well as his first outing last Saturday in Pawtucket (three scoreless innings, 40 pitches, six strikeouts), it’s possible he could return sooner rather than later. Right now he’s slated to return to the rotation on Aug. 6 at Anaheim.
Because it’s such a short trip to Toledo, Francona said he didn’t know if Schilling would fly or drive.
“I really don’t care,” said the manager. “As long as he pitches I don’t care how he gets there.”
*With Ortiz out of the lineup again tonight, Francona is going with a little bit different lineup because the Sox are facing the Indians' C.C. Sabathia (13-4, 3.81 ERA). The manager said he's just trying to get through some bumps and bruises and not have it affect the outcome of the game in a bad way.
For example, Coco Crisp is hitting fifth as he continues to get bounced around the order.
“Coco hits where ever you ask him to hit,” said Francona. “I’m not sure it matters with the way he’s swing the bat he can hit 1 through 9, it doesn’t matter.”
Crisp posted a 4-for-5 night on Monday against the Indians and is 10-for-13 in the last three games to raise his average to a season-high .284.
Francona said Crisp’s turnaround began when he started getting around on the fastball, now he’s hitting the ball to all fields with “authority” according to the manager.
“When he first got hot you would throw him a fastball and he would whack it,” said Francona. “Now, if you throw him a slider he’ll hit it the other way. He’s using the whole field and taking aggressive swings without having to swing hard. That’s a good feeling for a hitter.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 5:50 PM | Permalink
David Ortiz update
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz just stepped into the cage for a live round of BP. Manager Terry Francona said earlier today that Ortiz will most likely be in the lineup tomorrow night.
For some reason, Ortiz only dropped down a couple of bunts without taking swings. The usual routine to start BP is the batter bunts down the first-base line, third-base line, simulates a hit-and-run and a sacrifice fly before running to first.
Ortiz just took about 10 swings and showed no ill effects, but he did not run. He's been out of the lineup since he injured his shoulder diving head first into second base last Friday night at Fenway Park.
"David's doing real well," said Francona. "I would be surprised if he doesn't play tomorrow. Even is frame of mind, you look at him today, there was a lot of improvement yesterday and again today. That's why he's not playing. We're trying to get him healhty, so when he plays he can do some damage."
Francona is keeping a close eye on Ortiz and the two just had a brief discussion after the BP session concluded.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 5:21 PM | Permalink
Tonight's lineups from Cleveland
Julio Lugo, 6
Dustin Pedroia, 4
Kevin Youkilis, 3
Manny Ramirez, DH
Coco Crisp, 8
Mike Lowell, 5
Jason Varitek, 2
J.D. Drew, 9
Wily Mo Pena, 7
Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP
Grady Sizemore, 8
Casey Blake, 5
Victor Martinez, 2
Travis Hafner, DH
Ryan Garko, 3
Jhonny Peralta, 6
Trot Nixon, 9
Ben Francisco, 7
Josh Barfield, 4
C.C. Sabathia, SP
Posted by Joe McDonald at 5:10 PM | Permalink
Sox Streakers for July 24
-Julio Lugo, 13-game hit streak, during which he is 22 for 50 (.444)
-Coco Crisp, seven-game hit streak, during which he is 14 for 29 (.483)
-Dustin Pedroia, seven-game hit streak, during which he is 15 for 33 (.455)
-Jason Varitek is 5 for his last 30 (.167)
Red Sox vs. C.C. Sabathia
-Coco Crisp, 2 for 3 (.667)
-Manny Ramirez, 10 for 18 (.556), 4 HR
-Wily Mo Pena, 3 for 9 (.333)
-David Ortiz, 5 for 18 (.278), 1 HR
-Julio Lugo, 4 for 15 (.267), 1 HR
-Mike Lowell, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Kevin Youkilis, 1 for 4 (.250)
-Jason Varitek, 1 for 7 (.143), 1 HR
-Doug Mirabelli, 1 for 10 (.100)
-Eric Hinske, 0 for 3
-Sabathia is 2-3 with a 4.35 E.R.A. in six career starts against Boston.
Indians vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
-Josh Barfield, 2 for 3 (.667)
-Travis Hafner, 2 for 3 (.667)
-Kelly Shoppach, 2 for 3 (.667)
-Grady Sizemore, 2 for 4 (.500), 1 HR
-Ryan Garko, 1 for 2 (.500)
-Casey Blake, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Trot Nixon, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Jhonny Peralta, 0 for 3
-Matsuzaka went 5.2 innings, giving up six runs and taking the loss in his first appearance of the year against Cleveland.
-All-time series: Cleveland 1,007, Boston 936.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 4:15 PM to Projo Sox Streakers
Today's Manny file: Hero in the first, goat in the fifth
The good news first, because it turns out to be more important: Manny Ramirez's two-run double in the first inning put the Sox on top to stay last night in Cleveland, and also moved Ramirez into sole possession of 35th place on the all-time RBI list, with 1,576. Next up is number 34, Al Kaline. Manny needs seven more to tie him.
The bad news is that Ramirez exhibited a pretty embarrassing lack of effort last night in the fifth, just after Jon Lester had wiggled out of a jam that could have wiped out the Sox' lead. Thinking his shot, which ended up hitting the wall, was a home run, he trotted to first, getting only a single. The next batter, J.D. Drew, grounded into a double play, making Manny's gaffe real unfortunate. Sure looked to me like Drew was safe at first, though.
Former Cleveland Indians teammate Jim Thome, who is likely to enter baseball's 500 home run club this year soon before or soon after Manny Ramirez, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently about what it was like to see Ramirez hit for the first time, in batting practice before a AAA game in Charlotte, N.C. Thome says he wasn't really impressed, as Ramirez was just blooping balls over the infield. Then came the game, and Manny blasted two home runs. "I mean it was like, Whooh!' This was a guy who was just hitting bloopers over the first baseman's head in BP. But with Manny, he always has a plan when he hits. The guy was incredible, and it's been that way since," Thome says.
Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press-Herald believes that when David Ortiz comes back, he should move to fourth in the lineup, with Manny fifth. The top three spots would be Coco Crisp, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 1:49 PM to Projo Mannybeingmanny
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Lester's win; do the Sox need a trade?
Sean McAdam is back for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the audio file. Sean talks about Jon Lester's winning performance last night, Coco Crisp's blazing-hot streak, the Red Sox' bullpen situation (Do they still need help, give the emergence of Manny Delcarmen, the addition of Julian Tavarez and the improvement of Mike Timlin?), and tonight's matchup of Daisuke Matsuzaka and C.C. Sabathia.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Lester: "He was able to get himself out of some jams with a double play and some strikeouts, got some swings and misses, and just seeing him out there healthy on the mound last night was an achievement and a step forward. ... To get him that 4-0 lead right out of the chute in the first gives him some breathing room. It's nice for any pitcher to have that lead before he takes the mound, but given all the things that I'm sure Lester was battling and trying to keep himself on an even emotional keel, to have that backing going out in the bottom of the first must have given him a sense of security."
On Crisp: "The thing I see at the plate is that he's back to becoming a very aggressive guy who is very difficult to throw a fastball past. That was one of the things they liked about him when they made that trade, was Coco was able to get around on just about any fastball -- very quick wrists -- and you see him up there now being aggressive and driving the ball."
Do the Red Sox still need bullpen help? "There's less necessity to overpay. It doesn't mean they couldn't improve themselves by going out and getting another experienced arm, because I think there's still some issues about Delcarmen's experience ... until Delcarmen has some September or even postseason experience, you wonder how he's going to respond to the pressure cooker. And though Timlin has pitched well, I think they have to be worried a little bit about his durability. He's been on the DL with shoulder issues twice in the last year, and given that he's 41 with a ton of innings under his belt."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:59 AM to McAdam
Baseball Today: Tuesday, July 24
AP photo / Mark Duncan
A FLAIR FOR THE DRAMATIC: The Red Sox made things a bit easier on Jon Lester last night, giving the 23-year-old lefty a 4-0 lead before he even went to the mound to pitch the bottom of the first. But the play of the game came in the fourth inning, after Lester surrendered a single and walked two batters to load the bases, and fumbled Josh Barfield's grounder, which could have been an inning-ending double play. When Lester blew a fastball past Grady Sizemore -- the same Sizemore who took Lester deep in the third inning -- Lester ensured that the story of his return has a happy ending. Joe McDonald breaks down the "Comeback Kid's" performance, and the reaction from players in both clubhouses (including former Red Sox farmhand Kelly Shoppach), in today's projo.
IN PRAISE OF...: Curt Schilling writes about Lester's return on the 38 Pitches blog. An excerpt: "Watching Jon all day was an experience I won’t ever forget. Going through what he has gone through, beating it, and coming all the way back to the big leagues and then throwing 6 strong innings, wow."
...UNPRAISED MEN: Seth Mnookin also wants to toast Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo, who have been adding a lot of life to the Red Sox offense lately (Feeding the Monster). Mnookin also offers these predictions for the rest of the season: "Boston's division lead will be as low as 4 games and that they’ll ultimately end up winning the East by somewhere between 6 and 8. Oh, and I’d also guess that New York won’t be in the playoffs, A-Rod won’t be in the Bronx come next spring, and Joe Torre will wish he’d retired a year earlier."
BUT THEY LOOK GOOD NOW: Roger Clemens and the Yankees cooled off the (moderately) hot Kansas City Royals to win their fourth game in a row. In the process, Alex Rodriguez became the fastest player since Manny Ramirez in 1999 to reach 100 RBI in a season (projo stats).
AND NEXT ON THE AGENDA: Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia tries tonight to become the majors' first 14-game winner (projo stats). If he doesn't get it done, then Josh Beckett will attempt to accomplish the same feat on Wednesday. Both games should be great pitching matchups: it's Sabatha against Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Beckett against the surprising Fausto Carmona.
FOOL ME TWICE: When David Ortiz hurt his shoulder trying to beat Jermaine Dye's throw and turn a single into a double, it wasn't the first time that challenging Dye had a painful end (Boston Globe). In 2001, Ortiz (then with the Minnesota Twins) broke his wrist trying unsuccessfully to score from second on a throw by Dye (then with the Kansas City Royals). WBZ-TV in Boston has a video from Sunday of Ortiz talking about his injury and showing how much movement he has in his arm.
LITTLE BIG MAN: Speaking of Ortiz, Steve Corkran reports in the Contra Costa Times that the big slugger once had dreams of being a little man in a big man's sport. Until his early teens, Ortiz says, he had dreams of becoming a basketball player. "I was skinny back then," Ortiz says. "I could run fast and I was a pretty good basketball player." Then he put on a display of hitting prowess that impressed a professional scout at a baseball clinic in the Dominican, and the rest is history.
STILL A CLASSIC: Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune writes that what John Henry's group has done to both preserve and improve Fenway Park could serve as an appropriate model for the Cubs' new owner as he ponders the future of Wrigley Field.
STOP THE DITHERING: Also in the Tribune, Rick Morrissey says it is time for the White Sox to do something, anything, to improve the team's future as their disastrous season continues to go down the drain.
TEIXEIRA UPDATE: FoxSports' Ken Rosenthal reports that the Red Sox and the Yankees are both on the periphery of the teams interested in Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira. Rosenthal says the Rangers are asking for a lot, and that the Atlanta Braves and the L.A. Angels are the teams most aggressively pursuing Teixeira.
OLD FRIENDS: Hanley Ramirez, who dislocated his left shoulder on Sunday, could return to the Marlins lineup soon, according to the club's Web site. .... Alan Embree remains the closer in Oakland, for now, even though the Athletics activated Huston Street from the disabled list yesterday (MLB). The team plans to bring Street back cautiously.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 9:00 AM to Projo Sox Crawl