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September 10, 2007
Matsuzaka will be watched
There will be more interest than usual when Daisuke Matsuzaka does his off-day throwing tomorrow.
``He will work on some stuff on the side,’’ manager Terry Francona said, ``like we normally do. We’ll try to spend some time and bear down on how we can help.’’
Francona said the staff has had much discussion with Matsuzaka about how the pitcher can snap out of a slump that has been him post a 9.57 ERA in his last five starts. Francona insisted Matsuzaka has not had five bad games, but rather bad innings in those games.
``I think we need to recognize not just what goes wrong, but what goes right,’’ he said.
He spoke about how one issue is getting Matsuzaka to go back to using all his pitches, as he had done earlier in the season. In recent games, when he has had problems, he has tried to deal with them by throwing hard stuff.
``We talk about about using your whole repertoire and commanding it, throwing strikes,’’ Francona said. Matsuzaka will get an extra day of rest before his next start because the team is off Thursday, but Francona would not get into any talk about perhaps skipping him a time or two.
``He’s not going through anything any pitcher hasn’t gone through,’’ Francona said. ``It’s part of the learning curve when you come to the major leagues.’’
Posted by Paul Kenyon at 5:13 PM | Permalink
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Francona talks lineups and strategy
David Ortiz was ready for a day off and tonight is an ideal time to do it.
That, in so many words, is why the Sox slugger will not be in the starting lineup tonight when his team takes on Tampa Bay and lefty Scott Kazmir
``He’s known this day is coming. Especially with the pounding he’s taken, I think it’s necessary,’’ manager Terry Francona said if his decision to rest Ortiz and go with a lineup that includes Dustin Pedroia hitting third and Mike Lowell fourth. Ortiz not only has played a lot, the Sox face a tough lefty. Ortiz is 5-for-34 lifetime (.147) against Scott Kazmir, the Rays starter tonight, with one home run.
``I don’t want to use the word desperately, but I think it’ so beneficial for David not to play tonight,’’ Francona said. ``You look who’s pitching for them. You look how you can put out a lineup that will score enough runs to win.’’
T he subject led to a discussion of how the Sox have being using a different style ever since Manny Ramirez went out 13 games ago with a strained left oblique.
``We’ve had a different look,’’ Francona noted. ``I hate to say this in Boston. We’ve used sort of pitching and defense. I know that’s almost sacrilegious.’’
Francona spoke about how the defense has been strong, how his team has been aggressive on the bases and has bunted more.
``Whoever you send out there, you try to win. Sometimes your approach will be a little different depending on who you send out there,’’ Francona said. ``However long Manny’s been out, you haven’t heard woe is us. We still miss Manny, but because of some depth and guys like (Jacoby) Ellsbury and the way they’re playing, it lessens the blow.’’
Ramirez is at Fenway tonight and was working out, but the manager said he had not yet received a report on when Ramirez might return. Francona also said Doug Mirabelli (strained left hamstring) is improving but likely will not catch tomorrow night. That means Kevin Cash will work again with Tim Wakefield.
Posted by Paul Kenyon at 4:46 PM | Permalink
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A new Sox lineup
Another day another surprise or two or three for the Red Sox.
Welcome to Fenway where the good news is that there is no tarp on the field so we apparently have a green light to begin a new Sox homestand.
Manager Terry Francona has posed his lineup and it is a new one. No Papi. No Manny. And a 3-4 punch of Pedroia and Lowell. The Devil Rays have not yet posted theirs.
Keep in mind that Tampa Bay is starting lefty Scott Kazmir. We will head down now to talk to Francona and ask for comment on his lineup, but one number stands out. Ortiz, who is not starting, is 5-for-34 lifetime (.147) against Kazmir:
Posted by Paul Kenyon at 3:47 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk: The "X" factor as the season ends
Click here to listen to the full audio report, as Sean McAdam joins us for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Today's topic: What's the "X" factor going in to the end of the season? Sean discusses Dice-K's recent slump as the Sox head towards playoff time.
Posted by Pam Cotter at 11:43 AM to Martone
Baseball Today: Monday, September 10
SIMPLE FORMULA: Strong starting pitching, overpowering relief work and clutch hitting usually always spell success in baseball, and so it was for the Red Sox yesterday. Steven Krasner reports on their 3-2 victory in Baltimore, which featured all the above elements in the persons of Josh Beckett, Hideki Okajima, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Lowell and Coco Crisp. (projo.com) (Above, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz score on Lowell's single. AP Photo) That completed a three-victories-in-four-games stretch at Camden Yards, but talk still centers around the one they lost: Saturday night's 11-5 defeat in which Daisuke Matsuzaka bottomed out after a series of poor performances, knocked out of the game after only 2 2/3 innings. An ineffective Matsuzaka would almost surely sink whatever postseason hopes the Red Sox have, and he's been Webster's definition of ineffective since August 1 -- in his last seven starts he's 2-4 with a 6.85 ERA. (Projo Stats) Most of the speculation centers around fatigue, since he's in unchartered physical territory as the longer and more challenging North American baseball season winds to a close. But Krasner wonders if he's not facing the same adjustments that Beckett faced last year and if he shouldn't lean more on Jason Varitek to carry him through . . . which is one of the things Beckett has done this season.
ACE IN THE HOLE: The Boston Herald's Steve Buckley says that in Beckett, the Sox have the top-of-the-rotation horse that's so important in the playoffs. The Globe's Nick Cafardo says Beckett is in line for ''20 wins, the Cy Young Award, postseason success'' and is ''the Sox' ace, their centerpiece, their stud, their No. 1 and the best reason to feel good about the first game of the playoffs.''
TIRED? WHO'S TIRED? Not Hideki Okajima. (Boston Herald)
FLASHBACKS: The Sox hope Jacoby Ellsbury's seemingly smooth transition to the major leagues is a replay of Nomar Garciaparra 1996 and Fred Lynn 1974 in terms of future big-league success. (Boston Globe)
CATCHING UP: The downside of doing a weekday blog is that you miss some pretty interesting things on the weekend, like Friday night's dustup between the Red Sox and the Orioles' Daniel Cabrera, which started when Crisp a) attempted to bunt for a hit against Cabrera and b) eventually goaded him into committing a balk that gave the Sox a run. (projo.com) Cabrera was taken to the woodshed by manager Dave Trembley for his throwing behind Dustin Pedroia's head Friday night, calling Cabrera's actions ''[uncalled] for . . . [and] unprofessional.'' (Baltimore Sun)
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: On the same day they placed Erik Bedard on the 60-day disabled list, the Orioles lost Jeremy Guthrie, probably for the season, to a strained oblique muscle. (Baltimore Sun) That doesn't bode well for the Red Sox in the A.L. East race, since Baltimore has six games left with the Yankees.
THUMBS UP AND THUMBS DOWN: Chad Finn, on his Touching All The Bases blog, has props for Coco Crisp and Terry Francona, advocates replacing J.D. Drew with Jacoby Ellsbury, and pleads with the Sox to remove Glenn Geffner from the radio broadcast team.
CUCKOO FOR COCO: Crisp is on SI.com's Jon Heyman's Under-The-Radar Team.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: Writing for Boston Metro, Finn lauds the Sox' rookies.
SOMEONE, PLEASE, STOP HIM: And on FoxSports.com, Finn relates the lamest, most ridiculous John Sterling-ism ever (and, boy, is that saying something): ''What a job-a! By Joba!''
NO DETAIL TOO SMALL: The New York Post's Larry Brooks says the Yankees are taking care of the little things as they continue their march to the playoffs, a march that rolled over the Royals yesterday. (New York Daily News)
CHANGEUP: The Daily News' Jesse Spector thinks the Yankees would be best served in the playoffs with Mariano Rivera as the set-up man and Joba Chamberlain as the closer.
WHY? WHAT'S WRONG WITH MO? The blog Vegas Watch lists Rivera as the fourth-most dependable closer heading into the postseason. The most dependable? Jonathan Papelbon.
TRY, TRY AGAIN: Mike Mussina is ready to take Roger Clemens' rotation spot Wednesday night in Toronto. (New York Daily News)
WHAT RACE? It would take a Yankee collapse for them to miss the playoffs now, as the Tigers -- probably the only team with a realistic shot to catch them for the wild card -- lost both a game (to the Mariners) and Jeremy Bonderman yesterday. (Detroit News)
R.I.P. The Tigers and Mariners are among the teams declared dead by SI.com's John Donovan.
IT'S ALL ON YOU: The blog Detect-O-Vision puts the blame for the Mariners' collapse solely on the shoulders of manager John McLaren, and gives 10 reasons why.
A DRAW: The showdown between the Indians and the Angels over the weekend in Anaheim ended with the teams splitting four games. (Los Angeles Daily News) The jockeying between the Red Sox, Indians and Angels over the last three weeks for playoff seeding will be one of the hidden stories of the pennant races.
FAREWELL, SCOOTER: The Daily News' Bill Madden has a funny, yet moving piece on his last interview with Phil Rizzuto, conducted soon after the 9/11 attacks.
HE'S BACK: Pedro Martinez had Shea Stadium in a frenzy with five shutout innings in his second start back, raising the Mets' hopes -- or at least the hopes of their fans -- for the postseason. (New York Post)
ANOTHER NAME SURFACES: SI.com reports the Orioles' Jay Gibbons is the latest player to be named in baseball's growing drug scandal. The Baltimore Sun has more.
DEAL WITH IT: The Toronto Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair says Troy Glaus' earlier implication in the story has ramifications for the Blue Jays, both in the clubhouse and the executive suite.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY: On his Joy of Sox blog, Allan Wood links to a couple of stories that take the issue beyond the knee-jerk, ban-the-cheaters! reaction so common among fans and media.
SORRY FOR WHAT? We missed this when it first happened, but the Phillies' Brett Myers apologized for calling the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchiadi ''a retard'' during their clubhouse blowup a few weeks ago. Whether he was apologizing to Carchiadi, or simply for using the word ''retard,'' isn't really clear.
THE WEEK AHEAD: FoxSports.com's Dayn Perry says the five-game Cubs-Cardinals series will highlight the pennant-race matchups this week.
QUICKLY: PhillyBurbs.com reports the Phillies will bring back manager Charlie Manuel in 2008 . . . The Phils have cooled on the idea of signing Bob Wickman, recently released by the Braves (Philadelphia Inquirer) . . . The Chicago Sun-Times reports the White Sox will put Jon Garland on the trading block this winter . . . Scott Olsen says he expects to pitch for the Marlins next year no matter what team president David Samson says (Palm Beach Post) . . . The Cardinals' Chris Duncan may be out for the season (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) . . . The Cubs may be looking to replace Steve Trachsel in their starting rotation (Chicago Sun-Times).
OLD FRIENDS: Ex-Sox farmhand Phil Dumatrait has been brutal so far for the Reds (Baseball Musings).
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 6:55 AM | Permalink
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