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September 7, 2007
Game Story: Sox take advantage of slumping O's
BALTIMORE — The key when you’re playing a team that has basically called it a season and is checking off the final days on the calendar in eager anticipation of the last game is to take care of business and claim as many victories as possible against that team.
So it is with the Boston Red Sox in this four-game series at Camden Yards against the already-packed-it-in-looking Baltimore Orioles.
And Boston did what it had to, subduing the slumping Orioles, 4-0, sending them to their 15th loss in their last 17 games, including two straight in this series.
The winning pitcher was Jon Lester, and while the left-hander may recently have fallen a bit into the shadow of rookie right-hander Clay Buchholz, he once again flashed the promise that the Red Sox have been touting for the last couple of years.
Lester, who has battled back from anaplastic large cell lymphoma that cut his season short last year, blanked the Orioles on four hits over seven innings. He fanned four and walked two in his 99-pitch outing, permitting only one Baltimore base runner to reach third. He retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced.
It was the second time in six days that Lester (4-0) beat the Orioles. And one impressive part of his outing last night was his ability to stay focused while emotions between the teams spilled over and disrupted the game in the top of the fourth inning.
Offensively, the Red Sox, who won for the sixth time in the last seven games, managed to get to Baltimore Orioles’ starter Daniel Cabrera in two ways.
At the plate, they took advantage of his physical mistakes with the location of his pitches. And they also took advantage of him mentally, leading to an on-field skirmish in the top of the fourth inning that began when Coco Crisp, running from third base, embarrassed Cabrera by faking him into committing a run-producing balk.
That led to Cabrera’s throwing his next pitch behind the head of Dustin Pedroia, and sparked a spirited get-together on the field, including the relievers spilling out of the bullpen. And eventually Cabrera was ejected.
The right-hander, who has All-Star talent that hasn’t been harnessed because he’s prone to wildness, coughed up a pair of runs in the second inning. It was his lack of control that got him into danger.
Cabrera, whose fastball was in the 93-98-mph range last night, got ahead of Kevin Youkilis, leading off the inning, at 0-and-2. But Cabrera proceeded to throw the next four pitches out of the strike zone, giving Boston’s inning a jump-start with a walk.
J.D. Drew, mired in a 4-for-35 drought, then laced a ground-rule double to right-center. Jason Varitek cashed in one of the runners with a single to right and Crisp’s sacrifice fly chased home the run that made it a 2-0 game.
It was Boston’s third run that triggered the inflamed emotions in the fourth. Crisp opened the inning with a single and moved to third on a pair of groundouts. With a 1-and-0 count on Pedroia, Crisp gave a good fake that he was about to make a mad dash to the plate, attempting to steal home.
Cabrera began his motion, saw Crisp out of the corner of his eye and, as Crisp put on the brakes, Cabrera stopped his motion, which is a balk. That gave Crisp home, put the Sox on top, 3-0, and led to a little extra curricular activity.
The game was delayed for about 15 minutes before everything was sorted out.
Lester struggled to recapture the groove he had been in. He was nicked for a single by Miguel Tejada, leading off the bottom of the fourth, and then he walked Kevin Millar, putting runners at first and second with none out.
Lester, though, steadied himself, showing impressive poise. He got Aubrey Huff to hit into a forceout and, with runners at first and third and one out, Lester calmly retired Ramon Hernandez on a soft liner to short and emerged unscathed on Jay Payton’s fielder’s choice grounder.
As Lester kept sailing through the Orioles’ batting order, his teammates managed to tack on another run, thanks in part to the blazing speed of Jacoby Ellsbury, who scored from second on Youkilis’ two-out line-drive single to left in the seventh, making it a 4-0 Red Sox advantage.
Posted by Chris Venditto at 10:58 PM | Permalink
Sox notes: Fake steal of home gets better of Cabrera
BALTIMORE — How often do you see a runner at third fake a mad dash toward home plate, trying to get the opposing pitcher to balk?
And how often does it work? Almost never?
Well it worked for the Sox’ Coco Crisp in the fourth inning last night. Crisp’s fake of a steal of home forced Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera to balk, enabling Crisp to trot home with the run that put Boston ahead, 3-0.
And it led to a spirited bench-clearing gathering around home plate after Cabrera’s next pitch following Crisp’s fake dash went behind Dustin Pedroia’s head.
Plate umpire Mike DiMuro quickly jumped out in front of the plate after the errant pitch and issued warnings to Cabrera, the Orioles’ bench and the Red Sox’ bench. The Sox, meanwhile, began spilling out of their dugout in anger at what they had just witnessed.
Third-base umpire Bill Welke tried to head them off at the pass and basically was successful in sending them back to the dugout until Cabrera engaged began engaging in a shouting match with members of the Sox and had to be restrained by teammates and umpires Laz Diaz, Wally Bell and DiMuro.
So the Sox piled back onto the field as Cabrera broke free of restraints, ran from the mound to the infield grass near third base, threw his glove and the ball to the turf and motioned for them to come and get him. As he was doing that, catcher Ramon Hernandez had to be restrained by, among others, the Sox’ David Ortiz, from getting at someone on the Sox, whose identity wasn’t clear in the confusion in front of the Boston dugout on the third-base side.
Players then rushed out of both bullpens, which, interestingly enough at Camden Yards, are basically on top of each other in center field, so they entered the scene together.
After the uprising was calmed down, and the relievers strolled back to their respective bullpens, side by side, the umpires had a meeting near the mound with Cabrera standing on the pitching rubber. Then they had an animated chat with Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, who clearly was unhappy with their decision that Cabrera would be ejected from the game, no doubt for breaking away from the pack and physically challenging the Sox.
Mirabelli out for a while
Doug Mirabelli’s left hamstring, which he strained while running the bases in the third inning Thursday night, was “more tender than we were hoping,” said manager Terry Francona yesterday before prior to batting practice.
So Mirabelli, who had been making his first appearance since Aug. 17, when he suffered a right calf strain, will be out for a while. There is no timetable for his return.
Francona, though, said the Sox have no plans to add another catcher to the roster as of now, electing to go with Jason Varitek and Kevin Cash. Francona said Mirabelli could work behind the plate in an emergency.
Mirabelli, meanwhile, said he wants to make sure he’s healthy when he does return so he doesn’t re-aggravate either the calf or the hamstring injury. Clearly he’s hoping to be ready to play when the postseason roster is set.
Ramirez still on the mend
Manny Ramirez’s rehabilitation from an oblique strain continues to progress, Francona said, but it will continue in FortFt. Lauderdale, Fla., because the Sox’ left fielder has been given permission to go home for personal reasons. He was scheduled to depart from Boston yesterday and was expected to return to Boston tomorrow.
“He’s getting close to resuming baseball activities,” said Francona, who added that, as with Mirabelli, there is no timetable for Ramirez’s return to the lineup.
Moss is on first base
Brandon Moss, an outfielder in the Red Sox system, is going to play first base for Santiago in Winter Ball.
Francona said Moss, who was promoted from Pawtucket to Boston when the rosters expanded on Sept. 1, was willing to go to winter ball and willing to learn a new position, giving him more versatility. Francona was on the field at Camden Yards early yesterday afternoon with Moss, showing him various footwork and positioning aspects of playing the position as well as talking about the mental and physical aspects of being a first baseman.
Francona knows from experience. He had to make the switch from outfielder to first baseman during his professional career.
No excuses from Wakefield
Tim Wakefield reiterated yesterday that his back was not bothering him in his disappointing start Thursday night (6 runs, 9 hits, 32/3 innings). The knuckleballer said he didn’t feel comfortable at all on the mound, but wasn’t using a 10-day layoff (he was scratched from a start last Friday because of a sore back) as an excuse. He’s scheduled to throw a side session today.
Around the bases
Eric Gagne, who had a successful bullpen session (20-25 pitches) on Thursday will throw another side session today. … The opposition has only one hit in its last 45 at-bats against flame-throwing Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, computing to a miniscule .022 batting average against the right-hander. The Angels’ Orlando Cabrera had that hit, a single on Aug. 17. Papelbon has retired the last 16 batters he has faced. Overall, opposing batters are hitting only .135 (24 for 178) against Papelbon. … The Orioles are batting .029 against Red Sox rookie right-hander Clay Buchholz in two games. Buchholz no-hit Baltimore last Saturday (the Orioles were 0 for 26 — one out came on a pickoff) and he coughed up one hit in nine at-bats to the Orioles in three impressive relief innings Thursday night.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 10:58 PM to Krasner
Final: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0
BALTIMORE -- Jon Lester pitched seven shutout innings, leading the Red Sox to a 4-0 win over the Orioles Friday night.
Baltimore had only been shut out once before this season: Last Saturday night, when Clay Buchholz pitched a no-hitter.
Lester, now 4-0, scattered four hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen each contributed a scoreless inning.
Every batter in the Red Sox order with the exception of Julio Lugo contributed one hit to Boston's eight-hit attack.
Get the box score and game information here.
Posted by Art Martone at 10:15 PM | Permalink
Pregame Notes, Sept. 7
--Doug Mirabelli's left hamstring, which he strained while running the bases in the third inning Thursday night, is "more tender than we were hoping," said manager Terry Francona this afternoon.
So Mirabelli, who had been making his first appearance since Aug. 17, when he suffered a right calf strain, will be out for a while. There is no timetable for his return. Francona, though, said the Sox have no plans to add another catcher to the roster as of now, electing to go with Jason Varitek and Kevin Cash. Francona said Mirabelli could work behind the plate in an emergency.
--Manny Ramirez's rehabilitation from an oblique strain continues to progress, Francona said, but it will continue in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., because the Sox' left fielder has been given permission to go home for personal reasons. He was scheduled to depart today and return to Boston on Sunday.
"He's getting close to resuming baseball activities," said Francona, who added that, as with Mirabelli, there is no timetable for Ramirez's return to the lineup.
--Brandon Moss, an outfielder in the Red Sox system, is going to play first base for Santiago in Winter Ball.
Francona said Moss, who was promoted from Pawtucket to Boston when the rosters expanded on Sept. 1, was willing to go to winter ball and willing to learn a new position, giving him more versatility. Francona was on the field at Camden Yards early this afternoon with Moss, showing him various footwork and talking about the mental and physical aspects of the position.
The Sox manager made an outfielder-to-first baseman conversion during his professional career.
--Tim Wakefield reiterated this afternoon that his back was not bothering him in his disappointing start Thursday night (6 runs, 9 hits, 3 2/3 innings).
He said he didn't feel comfortable at all on the mound, but wasn't using a 10-day layoff (he was scratched from a start last Friday because of a sore back) as an excuse. He's scheduled to throw a side session tomorrow.
-- The inside of Mike Lowell's left foot, just under the ankle bone and around the instep, is tender today. Lowell fouled a ball off his foot Thursday night, but didn't have to leave the game.
"My speed game may have to take a hit," joked Lowell, who is no baserunning speedster.
--Eric Gagne, who had a successful bullpen session (20-25 pitches) yesterday, will throw another side session tomorrow.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:51 PM | Permalink
Starting Lineups, Sept. 7
R. Hernandez c
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:46 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Another winner from Buchholz
Click here to listen to the full audio report, as Sean McAdam joins us for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Today's topics: Clay Buchholz's gutsy relief performance last night; Tim Wakefield's shaky return from the disabled list; the emergence of Kevin Cash as an alternative to Doug Mirabelli; Coco Crisp's trade value; Kevin Youkilis' record-tying no-errors streak; Red Sox Gold Glove candidates; and revelations involving Rick Ankiel and human growth hormone.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments?
Buchholz: "It's only been three major-league appearances, but I would say that this guy's mettle has already been tested and shown to be more than good enough to pitch at this level."
Crisp: "The Red Sox could be dealing from a real position of strength [this offseason]. They've got a superb defensive outfielder with a somewhat limited offfensive portfolio, but still someone who has speed and some other dimensions to use. He's under control for three years, it's an affordable deal, and the Red Sox can sit back and get the best offer they can, and then have Ellsbury be the center fielder next year."
Gold Glove candidates: "Obviously there are two players, maybe even three, who deserve Gold Glove consideration on the Red Sox: Crisp, who's made one error this year; Youkilis, who has not made any; and I think you have to look at Dustin Pedroia at second base."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:46 AM to McAdam
Baseball Today: Friday, September 7
FEAT OF CLAY: ''The Legend of Clay Buchholz grew last night,'' writes Steven Krasner, and why not? It's wasn't so much that Buchholz (above, AP Photo) escaped a bases-loaded, no-out mess in the sixth -- a mess of his own making, granted -- or that he got the victory in the Red Sox' 7-6 win over the Orioles, or that he's now 3-0 despite having made only three major-league appearances. It was how he did it, writes Krasner, that so impressed the Red Sox, right down to the 3-and-2 changeup he used to strike out Kevin Millar with runners on second and third and two out in the sixth. ''If the Red Sox ever had any questions about his mental makeup,'' writes Kraz, ''they received an answer that left them giddy.'' Even before last night, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer said he was impressed with Buchholz. (Boston Globe)
MEDICAL REPORT: Tim Wakefield's performance was so shaky -- 3 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 6 runs -- speculation immediately rose that his back, which caused him to miss his last start, was still bothering him. But, as Krasner reports, Wakefield said he felt fine and the back had nothing to do with how he pitched. Doug Mirabelli, on the other hand, had to leave the game three innings into his comeback because of a hamstring injury. He had strained his right calf three weeks ago and was just recently activated off the disabled list.
HE'S ELIGIBLE, FOLKS, DON'T WORRY: The Globe's Amalie Benjamin explains the postseason eligibility rules. And yes, Jacoby Ellsbury can be on the playoff roster.
NO END IN SIGHT: As Sean McAdam noted Thursday, that might not be good news for J.D. Drew, whose summer of discontent continued last night when, with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning of a 6-6 game, he grounded into the easiest 6-4-3 double play you ever saw, ending the threat. (Luckily for him, he was bailed out in the ninth when Coco Crisp beat out an infield hit, stole second, and rode home on a single to left-center by Jason Varitek for the winning run.) It's clear The Nation has turned on him (Boston Dirt Dogs), and he admitted to the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley yesterday he's going to have to learn to ''relax a little bit'' if he's going to have a successful career in Boston. He also takes a swipe at the critics who interpret his laconic demeanor as a lack of passion, asking, ''Do you think I want to have the year that I’ve had? . . . I’m as hard on myself as anybody.''
OH, SO THAT'S WHAT THOSE WERE! The strange uniforms worn by the Orioles last night were replicas of the Baltimore Black Sox Negro League team. (mlb.com)
YOU'RE NOT PRAYING HARD ENOUGH: The Orioles are going so badly that even the team chaplain is catching some blame. (Baltimore Sun)
IT IS WHAT IT IS: The Yankees are heading down the stretch with two rookies in their starting rotation, along with another slot manned by ailing/struggling veterans (Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina), and Andy Pettitte hopes it'll be good enough to get them to the postseason. (New York Daily News) To get there, says Brian Cashman, they have to focus on the task at hand and win the games they're supposed to win. (New York Post) And they may have to do it with Alex Rodriguez at DH; his ankle may keep him off third base. (New York Post)
''THEY'RE IN'': Peter Abraham examines the schedules of the wild-card contenders and concludes that the Yankees will make the playoffs: ''The schedule is easy and the offense will make up for any problems with the pitching.'' (LoHud Yankees Blog)
AND YOU CAN THANK ME FOR THAT: Bud Selig does a little chest-pounding over the wild card, which, as this MLB.com story notes, was ''his baby.''
PROUD FATHER: Joba Chamberlain's father will be at Kansas City when the Yankees play the Royals this weekend, and admits ''[there'll] probably will be a tear or two running down my cheek'' at the sight of his son in a Yankee uniform. (New York Post)
THE LATEST BOMBSHELL: The New York Daily News reports the Cardinals' Rick Ankiel -- one of baseball's best feel-good stories for his transformation from no-control pitcher to slugging outfielder -- received a 12-month supply of HGH in 2004. The story is careful to note ''he stopped receiving HGH just before Major League Baseball officially banned it in 2005. MLB does not test for HGH, but a player who is known to have used it or even possessed it from the time it was banned can face a 50-game suspension.''
N.L. RACES: Ankiel had made headlines earlier in the day by hitting two home runs as the Cardinals crushed the Pirates (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) . . . The Dodgers rallied past the Cubs at Wrigley Field. (Los Angeles Daily News)
A.L. RACES: The Angels beat the Indians in a matchup of two playoff-bound division leaders . . . The Tigers stayed alive with a ninth-inning win over the White Sox, and now get the chance to put away the Mariners -- who go to Detroit for the weekend -- and make the wild-card chase a two-team battle between themselves and the Yankees. (Detroit News)
ON THE HOT SEAT: FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal lists the managers who may in trouble at season's end, and says Joe Torre is one of them if the Yankees don't make the playoffs.
QUICKLY: The Giants' Bengie Molina says his team's losing ways are ''a freakin' embarrassment'' (San Francisco Chronicle) . . . Diamondbacks second baseman Orlando Hudson has a torn ligament in his thumb, but hopes he won't be sidelined long. (Arizona Republic)
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 6:49 AM | Permalink