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August 5, 2007
Red Sox journal: Schilling to start Monday night
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE — For the first time since June 18, Curt Schilling will be on a major-league mound Monday night, opening the Red Sox' three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Schilling has missed exactly seven weeks as he took time to strengthen his right shoulder and prepare himself for the final third of the season.
''I think the thing that has probably come to the surface,'' pitching coach John Farrell said, ''is the amount of work that is going to be required, at a minimum, at the age of 41, to endure the stress and the workload of a five-day rotation, in the course of 30-plus starts over the course of a given year.''
The veteran right-hander has shown improved command in three rehab starts in the minors, throwing first-pitch strikes to 23 of 25 hitters in his last outing.
''He's been able to pitch without thinking about repeating his delivery,'' manager Terry Francona said.
Farrell said Schilling's curve ball has been more effective against lefties in his rehab outings and that Schilling has been able to maintain his velocity. In his last start in Atlanta, Schilling's fastball was barely average, clocked at 87-88 mph.
Lopez to Pawtucket
To make room for Schilling, the Sox, as expected optioned Javier Lopez to Pawtucket, a move that pained Francona.
''It's not a reflection of the way he was pitching,'' Francona said. ''We value him. At the moment, he's an optionable player. It's difficult for him to understand; if I was in his shoes, I'd feel the same way. He'll be back —and he'll help us.''
Lopez was 2-1 with 2.87 ERA in 44 games.
''I'm not happy,'' said a somber Lopez, ''but there's not much I can do about it.''
Lopez admitted that he knew such a move could be possible, with Schilling returning, but had hoped his performance could save him.
''You always know what might take place,'' he said. ''It's just a numbers thing.''
Sox want Moss
The Red Sox are trying to promote outfielder Brandon Moss from Pawtucket for Monday night's series opener in Anaheim. The Sox would like Moss to take the roster spot of Eric Hinske, who is set to return to his home in Phoenix to take some time to attend to some personal matters. Hinske's wife is going through a difficult pregnancy, and the utility player recently had his grandmother pass away. The club is attempting to get Hinske placed on the bereavement list, which stipulates that a player spend a minimum of three days out of action and a maximum of seven. Moss is hitting .290 with 13 homers and 67 RBI in 111 games at Pawtucket.
Close one for Coco
Coco Crisp narrowly avoided injury when the Seattle mascot, zipping past on an all-terrain vehicle, clipped him in front of the visitor's dugout in the middle of the fifth inning. Crisp never saw the Mariner Moose coming, but heard him and managed to avoid a full-on collision.
''I've got no comment on the Moose,'' Crisp said. ''I moved out of the way. It was nothing too serious. I went down, but my knee didn't touch, so I kept running. It was just weird.''
Crisp said the mishap didn't upset him.
''I'm not an angry person,'' he said. ''I'm not going to go over and clothesline the guy.''
Francona said Seattle GM Bill Bavasi called the Boston dugout ''within minutes'' to apologize on behalf of the organization. Farrell could be seen giving an on-field security guard an earful after the incident.
Francona has been getting grief and threatened with significant fines from Major League Baseball concerning his habit of wearing a pullover top during games rather than the standard-issue uniform top. Francona has tried to tell officials that he wears the top to ward off chills he feels from blood-thinning medication, but has been unsuccessful in his attempts to date.
Around the bases
With his save Saturday night, Jonathan Papelbon became the first Red Sox reliever since Jeff Reardon to notch consecutive seasons with at least 25 saves. Papelbon had 30 saves last year and 25 so far this year. Reardon had 40 in 1991 and 27 in 1992 . . . Alex Cora played second in place of Dustin Pedroia and went 1-for-1 with a run scored. He also made a spectacular play to rob Jamie Burke of a base hit in the fourth. Cora fully extended himself and made a leaping grab on a liner . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka stands to soon break the club record for most strikeouts by a rookie. Ken Brett, who fanned 155 in 1970, holds the mark; Matsuzaka has 152 after his 10-strikeout effort Saturday night . . . David Ortiz provided some comic relief in the seventh. Ortiz wasn't held on at first, so he alertly broke for second. Burke threw down, but neither second baseman Jose Vidro nor shortstop Yunieksy Betancort thought to cover and the ball sailed into center. Ortiz, reveling in his second stolen base of the season, then good-naturedly pointed at Betancort . . . Shortstop Julio Lugo was picked off second base with one out in the top of the sixth, the fourth time he's been picked off this season.
Posted by Art Martone at 9:09 PM | Permalink
Game Story: Beckett stymies Mariners
SEATTLE – After going 13 months between wins at Safeco Field, the Red Sox yesterday managed their second win in less than 24 hours.
The secret? Nothing more complicated than strong starting pitching, a foundation for the team’s success all season in building the best record in the major leagues.
The day after Daisuke Matsuzaka limited the Mariners to two solo homers in seven innings, Josh Beckett was just as impressive yesterday, checking the Seattle Mariners on a single run over 6 2/3 innings, directing them to a comfortable 9-2 win.
The victory was Becektt’s 14th of the season, making him just the second American League starter to reach that figure this season. Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia is the only other A.L. starter to have hit that plateau.
``I thought his stuff was real good,’’ said manager Terry Francona. ``When he got into pitcher’s counts, he was throwing a lot of fastballs down (in the strike zone) and put it in the back of (the Seattle hitters’) heads. It gave them another pitch to think about (beside his curveball).’’
Beckett has been superb on the road this season, improving to 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA in eight outings this year. As the Sox rebound from their mid-season hiccup, they have their entire starting rotation to thanks.
Over the last 16 games, during which the Sox are 12-4, their starters are 9-3 with a 3.59 ERA.
As a staff, Boston’s starting pitchers lead the majors in wins (56) and strikeouts (537), and quality starts are the rule rather than the exception.
Beckett was strong from the beginning yesterday, striking out two in the first, three more in the second and another two in the third, finishing with nine for the afternoon.
He stranded two in the first, didn’t allow a leadoff walk in the second to advance and bailed out of a first-and-second, one-out jam in the third to keep the Mariners off the scoreboard as the Sox offense worked away against Seattle starter Miguel Batista.
He got some help from an alert Julio Lugo, who initiated a pickoff try in the fourth that cut off what could have been a big inning.
Raul Ibanez was on second thanks to a leadoff single and a two-out single from Yuniesky Betancort.. Noting that Ibanez was straying too far from the bag, Lugo put a play on, knifed behind the baserunner and drew the throw from Beckett.
Rally – and inning – over.
``It’s one of those deals we practice in spring training that we very rarely use,’’ said Beckett. ``That was all Lugo. He saw some daylight and got in behind (Ibanez) and then did a good job kind of blocking the bag.’’
The pickoff took some steam out of the Mariners’ attack. They managed a run off Beckett with three singles in the sixth, but by then, the Red Sox were tacking onto their lead.
As the staff’s nominal ace, Becket halted his own mini-losing streak (two straight losses), while extending the team’s momentum, giving them two wins in their first of three road series.
``That’s what we need to focus on from here on out – winning series,’’ said Beckett, whose ERA dipped to 3.31. ``If we can keep doing that, we don’t have to worry about anyone catching us.’’
Though the Sox stranded a staggering 13 runners on base, they had more than enough offense in support of Beckett. Every starter except Jason Varitek had at least one hit and eight different hitters knocked in at least one run.
Manny Ramirez had two RBI, giving him 27 since the All-Star break and David Ortiz added an RBI of his own.
``That gives us that one-two punch,’’ Francona said. ``We become a lot more dangerous when they get going. When they start swinging like that, even on days when we’re not scoring, we have a chance to get to (starters) and maybe get them out of there because of how those guys make pitchers work.’’
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 8:57 PM to McAdam
Streaking the other way
The Sox clobbered Seattle, 9-2, today to give them two (!!!!) straight wins at Safecfo Field.
Josh Beckett became the AL's second 14-game winner, allowing a single run over 6 2/3 innings. The Sox pounded out 13 hits and beat up the vaunted Mariners bullpen, scoring six runs in the final three innings to blow the game open.
Manny Ramirez homered and had three RBI.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 7:44 PM | Permalink
Sunday Morning Coming Down
Here are the lineups for the series finale:
Coco Crisp CF
Kevin Youkilis 1B
David Ortiz DH
Manny Ramirez LF
J.D. Drew RF
Mike Lowell 3B
Jason Varitek C
Alex Cora 2B
Julio Lugo SS
Josh Beckett P
Ichiro Suzuki DH
Jose Vidro 2B
Jose Guillen RF
Ben Broussard 1B
Adrian Beltre 3B
Raul Ibanez LF
Adam Jones CF
Jamie Burke C
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Miguel Batista P
The Sox will have OF Brandon Moss in Anaheim tomorrow. Moss is being called up to give Eric Hinske time to go home to Phoenix. Hinske recently lost his grandmother and his wife is going through a difficult pregnancy. The Sox are investigating how to get Hinske off the active roster. The bereavement list, given his grandmother's passing, is one option.
Players can stay on the bereavement list for a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days.
Moss can't play center, but the Sox still have Wily Mo Pena for that. The main attraction is that he gives the Sox a lefty bat off the bench while Hinske is absent.
Dustin Pedroia, who was hitless Saturday night, but is still hitting .357 in his last 16 games, is being given the afternoon off with Alex Cora taking over at second base.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 3:16 PM | Permalink
Sox, bullpen hold off M's, 4-3
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE – It had been so long since the Red Sox last won a game at Safeco Field – nine losses and counting, dating back to July 21, 2006 – that they must have had a sense that when a win came, it would not, ultimately, come easy.
And make no mistake – this one wasn’t secured until the final pitch of the final inning, with the potential game-tying run on second and the potential winning run on first.
''It was nice to go out and shake hands (signifying a win),'' agreed Terry Francona after the Sox had held off the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, Saturday night. ''It’s been a long time. Wins have been hard here. It’s been very difficult here.’’
Jonathan Papelbon struck out the first two batters of the ninth and seemed poised to finish the game with a flourish, with two strikes on Jose Guillen, one strike away from his fifth strikeout of the night.
Instead, Guillen worked a walk and pinch-runner Adam Jones stole second before Papelbon issued a second walk – this one to Raul Ibanez.
But Papelbon then got Adrian Beltre to foul out behind the plate and the Sox long regional nightmare was over.
Eric Gagne had retired the first two hitters in the eighth before enduring a similarly rocky inning in his second Red Sox appearance. Three consecutive hits – a single by Ben Broussard, a single to Kenji Johjima and a double to Jose Lopez – had brought the Mariners to within a run.
But Gagne got Yuniesky Betancourt on a comebacker, turning the lead over to Papelbon, who notched his 25th save.
Francona said he never considered lifting Gagne for Papelbon in the eighth, despite the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.
''We’re going to have to settle in as guys get comfortable,'' he said. ''We need to let Eric settle in.''
The win went to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who became the club’s third 13-game winner with the victory. Matsuzaka allowed two runs – both on solo homers – but otherwise pitched himself out of numerous jams while striking out 10, tying his high for the season.
''Right from the first pitch,'' said Francona of his starter, ''his fastball had good zip on it and he was able to command all his pitches.''
In the third, the Mariners had runners at first and second with no outs and didn’t score; in the fourth, they had runners at second and third with one out and failed to get a run; and in the sixth, they put the first two runners on base and were held scoreless.
''Being able to pitch well and (strand) runners on base – that’s my true style of pitching,'' said Matsuzaka.
After the Mariners grabbed a 1-0 lead on Adrian Beltre’s homer in the second, the Sox took the lead for good in the fourth when Jason Varitek drove a double to left, scoring both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The double was Varitek’s first extra-base hit in the last 14 games, dating back a homer against Toronto’s Dustin McGowan on July 14.
The Sox padded the lead in the sixth. Kevin Youkilis doubled and when Guillen tried to showcase his arm to keep Youkilis at third on a single to right from Ortiz, the ball sailed into the stands, enabling Youkilis to score with Ortiz taking second on the throw and third on the error.
A run-scoring double from Ramirez delivered Ortiz and gave the Sox’ left fielder 25 RBI since the All-Star break.
A solo homer from Betancourt – his second in as many nights – was the last run against Matsuzaka.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 2:16 AM | Permalink
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Streak is Over (If You Want it)
The Sox' long losing streak at Safeco Field was snapped tonight (this morning?) with a 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Daisuke Matsuzaka became the Sox' third 13-game winner. Jason Varitek provided a key two-run double and Jonathan Papelbon notched his 25th save, though not before putting the potential tying and winnning runs on base with two walks in the ninth.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 1:11 AM | Permalink