« October 9, 2007
October 11, 2007 »
October 10, 2007
The man doesn’t say much – due to the language barrier – but Dice-K got his point across clearly when asked about the Indians.
The last time the Japanese import faced Cleveland, the right-hander was outstanding. He worked seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Dice-K posted the margin of victory over Indians ace C.C. Sabathia on July 24, and Matsuzaka said he’ll be ready to pitch Game Three of the ALCS.
“I watched the Division Series and I could feel the momentum of the Indians,” he said.
Because he enjoyed success at Jacobs Field, there is a certain comfort level.
“I feel the mound there was good to pitch off of compared to others,” he said. “It was a comfortable mound. It will be good to pitch there.”
Posted by Joe McDonald at 5:07 PM | Permalink
The last time the Red Sox played the Indians, Boston completely dominated the four-game set in Cleveland last July. It was a special series for a few reasons, mainly the return of Jon Lester to a major-league mound. The left-hander earned the victory that night and allowed just two runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
Boston scored early with five of its six runs coming in the first two innings, something the club will need to do again in the ALCS.
In the second game of that series, the Red Sox won 1-0 as Daisuke Matsuzaka worked seven scoreless innings before Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon finished the job. Mike Lowell had the lone RBI in that game.
Things flip-flopped in the third game as the Sox’ Josh Beckett and the Indians’ Fausto Carmona both hurled excellent games. Cleveland’s Franklin Gutierrez crushed a solo homer for a 1-0 victory. Both teams staged an offensive barrage in the series finale with the Red Sox winning, 14-9.
“We played really good baseball,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona this morning. “We came out of that series playing good baseball. We knew we were playing a good team and we played pretty well.”
The Sox left Cleveland and traveled to Tampa and won two of three.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 4:54 PM | Permalink
Photo: Papelbon stays loose
Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon runs through an infield drill at Fenway.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 4:34 PM | Permalink
High school shooting putting Cleveland in the news
Eyes are turning toward Cleveland this afternoon for breaking news after a gunman opened fire at a downtown high school.
Mayor Frank Jackson said three young people and two adults were hurt, according to the Associated Press. Cleveland.com is reporting four people were shot, and one girl was hurt leaving the building.
SuccessTech Academy had been secured and there was only one suspect, he said.
"They have the shooter," Jackson said. He did not elaborate.
Cleveland has been on the sports radar since the Indians defeated the New York Yankees to face the Red Sox in the upcoming playoffs. Game 1 of the series is this Friday in Boston.
Get the latest on the shootings from the Associated Press and cleveland.com, the Web site of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 3:16 PM | Permalink
Here and There
-- Daisuke Matsuzaka will throw to some hitters tomorrow.
The right-hander pitched Game 2 of the ALDS against the Angels. He lasted only 4 2/3 innings, but threw 96 pitches to get those 14 outs. He was charged with three runs on seven hits.
He'll be starting Game 3 of the ALCS, on Monday night in Cleveland. He'll be pitching on eight days' rest, so in an effort to stay sharp, he'll face hitters tomorrow.
-- The pitchers had a little fielding practice this afternoon, covering bases on grounders to the right side, etc.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:46 PM | Permalink
Pedroia Loses Again
Dustin Pedroia is a winner on the field. He has earned that reputation through his college and professional career.
But as a cribbage player, Pedroia has a lot of work to do.
This morning, as the media was clustered in the clubhouse, poised to interview whomever showed up early for today's workout, Pedroia arrived, got dressed in his T-shirt and shorts and made a visit to the manager's office.
Pedroia and Terry Francona have a daily cribbage match, and being in the postseason has not changed the routine. Nor has the result changed. Once again, Pedroia lost to Francona, who has good-naturedly crowed every now and then about his ability to dominate Pedroia in cribbage.
"I got my rear end kicked," said Pedroia with a smile.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:40 PM | Permalink
Lester ready for anything
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester has not pitched since the regular-season finale against Minnesota on Sept. 30. Because of the solid pitching in the ALDS, the young lefty was not needed, but it's likely he'll see some action in the upcoming ALCS against Cleveland.
Lester threw a brief simualted game along side Tim Wakefield on Tuesday and everything went well for both.
“I felt fine,” said Lester. “It was a little weird facing hitters.”
Wakefield is scheduled to start Game Four in Cleveland and Lester is slated to work out of the bullpen if needed. Ironically, he's hoping he want be summoned from the pen.
"It’s kind of one of those deals where I hope I don’t pitch because that means starters are going deep into games and they don’t need me," he said.
When asked if he has lost his rhythm because he hasn't pitched in a game in almost two weeks, Lester said he didn't know.
"I don’t know because I haven’t pitched in a game,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve stayed in my rhythm or not. I don’t think it’ll be too tough. It will probably be a rough first batter or two and hopefully from there I can settled down and be fine."
Posted by Joe McDonald at 1:33 PM | Permalink
The Indians have two aces on their staff, based on their numbers during the regular season.
C.C. Sabathia, the 6-foot-7, 290-pound left-hander who will start Game 1 of the ALCS Friday night at Fenway Park, went 19-7 with a 3.21 earned-run average. Fausto Carmona, a right-hander, was 19-8 with a 3.06 E.R.A.
That is a formidable 1-2 starting-pitching punch that the Red Sox will be facing in this series.
But Boston has a solid 1-2 punch, too. And on the Red Sox' side, Boston's top two starters in the series, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling, also boast an established postseason pedigree of excellence, unlike postseason rookies Sabathia and Carmona.
Beckett, who pitched the Marlins to the 2003 World Series title, enhanced his reputation as a big-game pitcher by authoring a complete-game shutout of the Angels in Game 1 of the ALDS. Schilling, who has helped pitch Arizona (2001) and Boston (2004) to World Series crowns, contributed seven shutout innings in Game 3, helping the red Sox polish off a first-round sweep.
"Those two guys don't mind being in the spotlight or pitching in pressure situations," said Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "Some people enjoy that. Others can't handle the pressure of the postseason. We're very fortunate to have guys like Beckett and Schilling on our team."
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:28 PM | Permalink
Wakefield "Good Enough"
Tim Wakefield did not want to be the center of attention in the Red Sox' clubhouse this morning, politely refusing interview requests.
But he did tell the Journal that he was feeling "good enough" and "back to normal" after throwing a 77-pitch simulated game Tuesday at Fenway Park.
The knuckleballer, who has been bothered by soreness behind his right shoulder since late August, has been penciled in to start Game 4 of the ALCS against the Indians, slated for Tuesday night in Cleveland.
Manager Terry Francona said he thought, after seeing Wakefield throw Tuesday and talking to him afterwards, that the right-hander took a positive step in his workout.
"He gave me the "thumbs up" (sign) when he was done," said Francona this morning. "I think he really seemed to come through it pretty well. He knew it was an important day and he treated it as such. I think we were pretty pleased with the way the ball was coming out of his hand."
Wakefield faced his teammates in the simualted game and Sox' backup catcher Kevin Cash was one of the hitters the knuckler faced. In fact, Cash caught Wakefield last month while Mirabelli was on the DL.
“I was really impressed with two-strike pitch, the soft one,” said Cash. “It had great movement; it went straight down. When he throws the harder one, you get more inconsistent movement, which is good. But, when he throws that soft one, it just kind of floats letter-high and then it falls off the table. He was throwing those really well.”
Posted by Steven Krasner at 1:21 PM | Permalink
Kielty To Start Against Sabathia?
By STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- As he walks through the clubhouse, Bobby Kielty is as anonymous a player as you'll find on the Boston Red Sox.
The only reason the journeyman outfielder stands out is his hair, a bright red, though it is closely cropped.
But if past performances are any indication, on Friday night, Kielty could become a household name in New England, if not all around the country.
That's because, in baseball players' parlance, Bobby Kielty "owns" C.C. Sabathia, the flame-throwing left-hander the Cleveland Indians will be starting Friday night in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park.
Kielty, a switch hitter, has gone 9 for 29 against Sabathia. That computes to a .310 batting average. And while that's impressive enough, it is Kielty's power numbers against the mammoth 6-foot-7, 290-pound Sabathia that stand out even more.
In those 29 at-bats, Kielty has bashed two homers and four doubles, knocking in seven runs. His slugging percentage in the personal battle is a whopping .655. To put that number in context, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who posted league-leading totals of 54 homers and 156 RBI this year, also led the A.L. in slugging percentage -- .645.
Kielty, who had only 52 at-bats after joining Boston on Aug. 18, has had so much success against Sabathia, that it's clear Red Sox manager Terry Francona is at least thinking about starting him in right field Friday night, replacing J.D. Drew, a left-handed hitter who is 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts against Sabathia, A Cy Young candidate who went 19-7 with a 3.21 earned-run average this year.
Not that Francona was ready to make that announcement this morning in a press briefing.
"We're going to have a meeting (later in the day). We haven't talked to anybody about our lineup or our roster," said Francona before the Sox' workout. "Bobby certainly has some success against Sabathia. What we do . . . I'd rather wait (to make any announcements) until after I talk to the players."
Kielty, who turned 31 two months ago, seemed prepared and eager for a starting spot in the ALCS opener.
"I'm excited," said Kielty, who has gone hitless in nine previous postseason at-bats with Minnesota (0 for 7 in 2002) and Oakland (0 for 2 in 2006).
"I've been to the playoffs before but I've never started. It has been more of a pinch-hitting role. But this seems to be a very good matchup for me. I have had success against C.C. I have a lot of at-bats against him from when I was with Minnesota (a Central Division rival of the Indians). I see the ball well out of his hand," said Kielty, a 6-foot-1, 225-pounder.
Kielty, though, is well aware of his role with the Red Sox. He knew that, after being designated for assignment by the Athletics on July 8, if he found another job in the big leagues it would be on a contender looking for a veteran presence with the ability to come off the bench.
That's why he signed with the Sox, who assigned him to Pawtucket, for whom he batted ,237 with 2 homers and 5 RBI in 10 games before being promoted to Boston. Kielty knows what is expected of himself and how to go about maximizing his effectiveness.
"As a role player, I'm used to being up in big situations. I prepare myself each day to be ready to go out there and do some damage," said Kielty of the late-inning pinch-hitting appearances that tend to crop up for players on the bench.
That's not always an easy role for a big-leaguer to adapt to, acknowledged Francona.
"Everybody's different, how they handle things," said Francona, who was a role player for most of his big-league career. "Whether you call it a role player, backup player, a guy who doesn't play every day, however you term it, the way you handle frustration is probably one of the most important things (about the job) because there is so much frustration.
"When you don't play every day and you take an 0-fer, you have to sit on that (hitless day) for a long time. Being able to handle that and then not have an adverse effect on the ballcub can be pretty important. I think our guys not only handle it, but have a positive impact on our ballclub, which I think is somewhat rare. It's hard to do," said Francona.
Since arriving in Boston, Kielty, who batted .231 with 9 RBI in his 52 at-bats for the Sox, has been a quiet person in the clubhouse. Francona tries to give his bench players playing time to keep them as fresh as possible so when they are called upon to produce, they at least have had some recent, if sparing, action. Otherwise, says Francona, it's not fair to expect too much from a reserve player who gets thrown into a pressure situation.
But that's where Kielty is likely to find himself Friday night, in the national-media spotlight in Game 1 of the ALCS, standing in the batter's box with Sabathia standing on the pitching rubber, the ball in his hand, ready to sizzle high-90s fastball or a sharp-breaking slider to the plate.
There is no place Kielty would rather be -- in the postseason, and facing a pitcher he has "owned," a situation that very likely will come to pass.
"Where I came from (Oakland, which finished with a 76-86 record) to being on a team with a chance to get to the World Series is great," said Kielty. "And when you're facing a pitcher you've had success against, it's great for your confidence."
Posted by Steven Krasner at 12:28 PM | Permalink
Youkilis heading to The Hall
Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis will be inducted into the University of Cincinnati's Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 1.
Youk stared for the Bearcats from 1998 to 2001 and was a three-time All-Conference selection. He hit. .366 during his career and holds or shares 10 season/career marks for Cincinnati.
He becomes the 16th baseball player to be enshrined in the school's Hall of Fame.
Game Seven of this year's World Series is scheduled for Nov. 1, so hopefully Youk won't be attending the gala.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 12:06 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Lineup, pitching rotation news
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. Today's topics: how the Red Sox' and Indians' destinies have been linked; Cleveland's youth movement; the biggest reason that the Indians are better now than they were back then; Bobby Kielty getting the start in right field; Curt Schilling promoted to Game 2 starter; Tim Wakefield's status for Game 4.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
Starting Kielty over Drew on Friday: "That seems to be the logical move for the Red Sox to make. Kielty is a guy that when he was brought in was cited for his ability as a swtich-hitter to hit lefties particularly well, and this would seem to be an opportunity for him to use that skill."
Starting Schilling in Game 2: "People were making kind of a big deal about Schilling sort of leap-frogging in front of Daisuke to become the number-two starter, but it seems to me that's the move to make after he performed as well as he did in his start on Sunday in Anaheim in the clinching game. And meanwhile, Daisuke struggled, obviously, in Game 2. As Terry Francona said, in all likelihood if the series goes anywhere near the distance, they'll both probably make two starts anyway, so let's not make too much of this. But I think it is telling that, if you're looking at getting off to a good start, trying to get a 2-0 lead at home, that they think Schilling will give them a better opportunity of doing that, and I agree."
On Wakefield's simulated game yesterday: "He threw 75 pitches, and from what I understand felt pretty good coming off but. ... They are keeping their options open, but indications were that it was a positive day for him."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:23 AM to McAdam
Baseball Today: Wednesday, October 10
RESUME FIRING: Prior to 2004, it can be argued that the most dramatic moment in Red Sox postseason history -- with the exception of Carlton Fisk, of course -- was Pedro Martinez coming out of the bullpen and shutting down the Indians with six no-hit innings in the fifth and deciding game of the 1999 ALDS. (Above, Martinez is carried off the field by jubilant teammates after the game's final out. Journal photo by Bob Breidenbach.) That game was the capper of five years' worth of battles between the Sox and Indians that have largely been forgotten as the Sox-Yankee holy war, dormant for so long, resurrected itself over the last decade. But Sean McAdam reminds us that, not so long ago, it was Cleveland, and not New York, who was Boston's biggest rival. Now they meet again, with a championship on the line, and we shall see if this particular rivalry reignites in the next 10 days or so.
SWITCHING SIDES: One of the Indians' biggest sluggers back then was Manny Ramirez. Today he's on the opposite side of the fence and, for all his foibles, the Red Sox couldn't be happier. Joe McDonald tells us why.
THEM, TOO: It wasn't so long ago that Trot Nixon and Kelly Shoppach were in Boston suits. And Alex Cora was wearing Cleveland colors. Not anymore. (All stories projo.com)
DIFFERENT ORDER: The Red Sox announced their pitching rotation for the series yesterday, and Steven Krasner reports Curt Schilling will supplant Daisuke Matsuzaka as the No. 2 starter. Tim Wakefield is penciled in as the No. 4 starter at the moment and he said he felt ''good enough'' after throwing a simulated game yesterday. This might bear watching; Wakefield gets surly when he's not feeling well and he wasn't exactly Little Mary Sunshine yesterday. It could be that he's still not healthy enough to pitch and the Sox may have to adjust their plans. Stay tuned. Also throwing yesterday were Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Timlin and Jon Lester. And while we're talking pitching, it's worth nothing that the Sox may ask for more out of Javier Lopez in this series. (All stories projo.com)
CASHING OUT? If Wakefield is, indeed, added to the ALCS roster, Kevin Cash may be taken off. (projo.com)
THE KING IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE KING! Many of the Sox felt it would be the Yankees, and not the Indians, they'd be playing this week but David Ortiz, for one, won't miss the Yanks. (Projo Sox Blog) Not many of them made a real effort to watch Monday night's ALDS finale between New York and Cleveland. (projo.com)
IT'S BETTER THIS WAY: The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy gives us 33 reasons why Sox-Indians is preferable to Sox-Yankees.
LOOKING AHEAD: In anticipation of DH-less World Series games in National League parks, Ortiz worked out a first base yesterday. (Projo Sox Blog)
BIG DEAL: The Sox had a 5-2 edge in the season series against the Indians, but almost to a man they dismissed it as meaningless. (Projo Sox Blog)
THE REAL WORLD SERIES: The New York Sun's Tim Marchman says the American League is so much stronger than the National that the A.L. ''could have literally fielded a stronger slate of playoff teams from among its second- and third-place finishers than the NL actually did.''
HE'S BACK! Joe Posnanski shut down his sublime Soul of Baseball blog last August, but now he returns with joeposnanski.com, and just in time for the baseball playoffs. Since he grew up an Indians fan, he figures to be paying close attention to the ALCS. Already he's thrown some props to Eric Wedge for sticking to his guns after a controversial pitching decision, and -- in a post destined to make him a hero in Red Sox Nation -- wonders why the folks in New York aren't killing Derek Jeter for his utterly brutal performance in the ALDS.
BYRD MAN: FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal shows a little love to the Indians' Paul Byrd.
OUR TIME HAS COME: ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick says the Indians are flying under the radar no longer and now have a chance to fulfill their dream.
KENNY BEING KENNY: For a guy who's been around as long as he has, Kenny Lofton has never become a particularly beloved figure anywhere he's been. An example: As his teammates were celebrating their ALDS victory over the Yankees Monday night, the New York Post reports Lofton hollered, ''Let's wrap it up, I have a tee time tomorrow.'' That, added the Post, ''rankled more than one Indian.''
THERE'S SMALL, AND THEN THERE'S SMALL: The blog The Good Phight notes that the smaller markets won each of the rounds in the LDS. I suppose it's technically true that the Angels (Los Angeles/Anaheim) are in a bigger market than the Red Sox (Boston), but no one's pointing to the Sox' triumph as an example of small-market perseverance.
O-V-A OVA: ESPN.com's Howard Bryant officially declares the Yankee Dynasty dead.
THE REAL MAGIC NUMBERS: Four and thirteen. That's the Yankees' record in their last 17 postseason games and the New York Daily News' Mike Lupica calls it ''most amazing statistic in sports right now.''
WHO ARE YOU GOING TO GET THAT'S BETTER? The Yankees apparently are in no hurry to do what everyone expects them to do: Fire Joe Torre. (New York Daily News) Baseball Musing's David Pinto says he understands why they'd do it, but he doubts they'll find a replacement''who can handle the egos of the ownership, players and NY media as well as Torre.''
WHO CAN WE GET THAT'S WORSE? The Daily News' Filip Bondy says Yankee fans are ready for a change in the manager's seat.
DO IT WITH STYLE: The Post's Mike Vaccaro says the Yankees have always been particularly classless when it comes to firing managers, and they should take a lesson in grace from Torre in doing it this time.
IN HIS CORNER: Torre has some support in the Red Sox clubhouse. (Hartford Courant)
YOU'RE NOT SOLVING THE REAL PROBLEM: The New York Observer's Howard Megdal says management isn't the Yankees main concern. It's pitching.
AND YOU MAY BE CREATING SOME: One of Torre's absolute strengths was the smooth way he handled the New York media, preventing controversy from even getting started. He did it by being thoughtful and articulate, without necessarily being enlightening, and by treating reporters with respect. But one of Torre's rumored replacements, Tony La Russa, is the anti-Torre when it comes to media relations; he attempts to cow and intimidate the press with bullying tactics. It's worked in the small markets (Oakland, St. Louis) in which he built his managerial bones. But if he comes to the big stage and tries what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz calls his "Don Tony" routine, the Daily News' John Harper warns that ''there could be some hellacious confrontations'' with members of the Fourth Estate, who, in New York anyway, are no shrinking violets.
DON'T WORRY: The New York Post reports that La Russa told Torre he's likely to return to St. Louis.
HOWEVER . . . La Russa also says he won't decide whether or not to return to the Cardinals -- or, I suppose, to leave them -- until he knows who the new general manager will be. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
FLAWED ARGUMENT: Tigers reliever Todd Jones, a regular blogger on SportingNews.com, presents his plan for getting all the playoff games in prime time and letting ''the Yankees know that other teams should share that primetime playoff slot.'' The problem with that is, save for Game Four against the Indians -- which was the only game played on that night -- no Yankee game started in prime time this year.
TIPPING THEIR HAND? Alex Rodriguez has yet to give any public indication about whether or not he plans to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, but his agent, Scott Boras, sure sounds like someone getting ready for free agency. (ESPN.com) If he does opt out, the Daily News says the Yankees won't attempt to re-sign him.
ONE MORE TIME: Another Suzyn Waldman audio clip is making the rounds. (cantstopthebleeding.com) Of all the melodramatic things I've ever seen . . .
QUICKLY: Gary Sheffield's shoulder was damaged more severely than originally thought, and it's a question as to whether or not he'll be able to play the outfield at the beginning of next season (Detroit News) . . . Veteran Astros broadcaster Milo Hamilton is recovering from a heart attack (ESPN.com) . . . The Royals are in no rush to choose a new manager (Kansas City Star) . . . The Tigers will bring Ivan Rodriguez back next year (Detroit News) . . . The Phillies extended the contract of manager Charlie Manuel (Philadelphia Inquirer).
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 7:16 AM | Permalink