Julio Lugo’s streak of consecutive hits and times on base came to an end because of a call at first base that, on replay, appeared incorrect. Lugo was called out by umpire Ed Montague, who ruled the short-hop throw from shortstop Erick Aybar was scooped in time by Casey Kotchman.
Lugo had reached base safely in seven straight plate appearances on a walk and then six base hits, including two last night.
The right-hander, called up from Pawtucket and pressed into service as the starting pitcher last night when Josh Beckett (stiff neck) was unable to go, was told he would be optioned back to the PawSox today.
Manager Terry Francona said that, as of last night, it wasn’t clear who would come up to take Pauley’s spot on the roster. It depends on the health of catcher Jason Varitek, who has been suffering from a debilitating case of the flu.
Varitek missed his third straight game last night. But Francona said Varitek informed him before last night’s game that he thought the worst of the flu was over for him.
Francona said if Varitek is more improved today, Boston will call up a position player. If he isn’t, the Sox will promote a catcher to back up Kevin Cash. Last night’s backup catcher was starting second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
The Sox are especially thin in the outfield because to make room for Pauley yesterday they designated utilityman Joe Thurston for assignment. Coco Crisp continues to recover from a hamstring injury and could be available to start tomorrow.
Beckett, meanwhile, could be healthy enough to make his next scheduled start, Sunday on the road against Tampa Bay.
-- Steven Krasner
BOSTON – After a one-out bunt single, Jacoby Ellsbury was perched on first base in a tie game in the eighth.
Ellsbury’s speed, and just the threat of the stolen base helped win the game for the Sox.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia replaced left-hander Darren Oliver with a right-hander, Scot Shields, even though lefties tend to hold runners better than righties. Shields paid careful attention to Ellsbury, who has stolen eight bases without being caught this year.
With Dustin Pedroia in the box, Shields stepped off the rubber and looked at Ellsbury. Then he threw a pitchout, with catcher Jeff Mathis firing to first in an unsuccessful attempt to pick him off.
Not surprisingly, Shields’ first pitch to Pedroia was a fastball (92 m.p.h.), giving Mathis a chance to throw out Ellsbury if he went. Shields tried to speed up his delivery by using the slide-step. Ellsbury stayed at first.
Ellsbury also stayed put on another fastball (92), again with Shields employing the slide-step, which can flatten out a pitch, taking off some of its movement. Pedroia took the pitch for a strike.
Now, with the count 2 and 1, Shields threw over to first. Ellsbury was safe. Then Shields stepped off the rubber and looked him back. Then he threw over, trying to hold Ellsbury close.
Pedroia, meanwhile, was ready for a fastball when Shields eventually made a pitch to the plate.
And he did, another 92 m.p.h. heater using the slide-step. Pedroia was geared up for it. He turned on it and drilled the ball inside the third-base bag, the ball zipping into the left-field corner.
Ellsbury, displaying his speed, easily scored without a throw as the Sox snapped a 6-6 tie and ultimately won the game, 7-6.
Pitch to the righty or pitch to the lefty.
That was the decision staring at pitching coach John Farrell and Hideki Okajima in the seventh inning with runners at second and third and two outs and the Sox ahead, 6-5.
They opted to have Okajima face the right-handed hitter, with excellent results. But in the eighth inning, Okajima faced the left-handed hitter, with depressing results, a game-tying first-pitch homer.
Sometimes the percentages just don’t work out.
In the seventh, the Angels’right-handed hitter was Torii Hunter, who was 2 for 2 in his career against Okajima. They had the left-handed Casey Kotchman on deck. Right-handers were just 1 for 13 against Okajima heading into last night’s game. Lefties were 1 for 8.
Okajima went after Hunter. He changed eye levels. He mixed his pitches. And he racked up a key strikeout.
Okajima got a call on the first pitch, an 88 m.p.h. fastball that was down. Then he went upstairs with an 88 m.p.h. fastball. Hunter couldn’t get his bat up to the ball, swinging and missing.
After Hunter was able to foul off an 83 m.p.h. splitter off the plate away, Okajima fired an 88 m.p.h. fastball that was up a bit, and again Hunter wasn’t able to get the bat on the ball, a whiff that ended the uprising.
In the eighth, though, Kotchman lofted a fly ball down the right-field line that sneaked its way past the Pesky Pole and into the seats, tying the game at 6-6.
Over the first two innings, Boston starter David Pauley was in such efficient command, there was premature talk about a perfect game.
One inning later, there was talk about who might be warming up soon for the Red Sox.
The difference between the perfect Pauley of the first two innings (6 up, 6 down) and the not-so-perfect Pauley of the third inning (3 runs on 4 hard hits) was a matter of inches.
In throwing only 24 pitches for the six outs over the first two innings, Pauley’s sinker was down in the strike zone where it needs to be for him to be successful, pitching around 88-91 m.p.h. on the radar gun. Of those six outs, four came on grounders, one on a strikeout and the other on a liner to center.
In the third inning, though, his sinker was up maybe 4-5 inches in the zone – and it got whacked hard. Maicer Izturis opened the inning with a double on a curveball and Jeff Mathis grounded a game-tying single up the middle on a decent sinker.
But Erick Aybar elevated a fat sinker for a ground-rule double into the Angels’ bullpen. And after the dangerous Vladimir Guerrero had popped up a thigh-high, down-the-middle 90 m.p.h. sinker with the bases loaded and one out, Pauley paid for another high sinker to Garret Anderson, who drilled it to center for a tie-breaking two-run single that put Los Angeles on top, 3-1.
Then, in the fourth, an 88 m.p.h. sinker that didn’t sink was croaked by Mathis for a no-doubt-about-it two-run homer over the Green Monster in left-center, sinking the Sox into a 5-1 deficit and prompting manager Terry Francona to get Julian Tavarez up in the bullpen.
Pauley wound up working 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and five runs in an 89-pitch outing.
Stayin’ alive can be more important than looking good at the plate.
Leading off the first inning, Jacoby Ellsbury took a very late and highly defensive swing at Jered Weaver’s 2-and-2 pitch, a 93-m.p.h. fastball. He barely ticked the ball, and Mathis, the Angels’ catcher, thought he gloved it.
Mathis got out of his crouch as if getting ready to throw the ball around the infield, but the ball slipped out of his mitt, giving Ellsbury life at the plate.
Weaver and Mathis decided to come back with a changeup. They outsmarted themselves. After a tardy swing at a fastball, Ellsbury was right on the 84 m.p.h. changeup and lined it into the Angels bullpen for a homer and a quick 1-0 Boston lead.
Dustin Pedroia was a little overaggressive on the basepaths.
He cracked a double with none out in the first. When David Ortiz hit a sharp grounder up the middle, Pedroia took a couple of quick steps toward third. Unfortunately for him, Weaver stabbed the ball, turned and caught Pedroia dead to rights in the basepaths. Pedroia was put out in a rundown.
It has been well documented that, given his druthers, Manny Ramirez would play about 10 feet behind the shortstop in the field as Boston’s left fielder.
The Angels’ left fielder, Garret Anderson, is the polar opposite when it comes to positioning at Fenway Park.
Anderson plays about two steps shy of the warning track, no matter the hitter. He plays basically in the same spot, whether it’s the power-packed Ramirez or the light-hitting Kevin Cash.
That positioning, though, served him well in the fourth when Sean Casey drilled an opposite-field screamer to deep left. Anderson had to lope back only a few steps in hauling in the drive on the warning track, making it a routine catch.
Maybe if David Pauley gets to stay in the majors for an extended period he will not do what he just did this afternoon.
Right now, though, Pauley is a relaxed and amiable guy, even on a day that has turned into one of the biggest of his career. As Steven Krasner reported here earlier, the 24-year-old right-hander has been called up from Pawtucket to pitch against the Angels tonight, an emergency replacement for Josh Beckett, who is out because of a stiff neck.
Almost all starters prefer to be left alone on the day they are to pitch. In many cases, not even teammates go near them, never mind members of the media.
Not Pauley, at least not today.
Pauley arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse about 4:10 this afternoon. The clubhouse was almost deserted. Most of the reporters were upstairs for the daily meeting with manager Terry Franconca. Most of the Sox players were on the field getting ready for the start of batting practice. I was on watch to chase Mike Lowell and Alex Cora, both of whom are on the disabled list. They were finishing early batting practice.
Pauley walked in and saw Pam Ganley from the Red Sox public relations staff. He smiled and gave her a hug. Pauley saw me and smiled. We have been having chats for three days now. I have covered Pawtucket games the last two days. Pauley was supposed to have started Sunday against Buffalo.
Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson received a call from Boston officials about 45 minutes before game time. They informed Johnson that Pauley might be needed in Boston. They told him to have someone else pitch, instead. Edgar Martinez started the first game of his pro career and pitched well, helping the PawSox beat the Bisons.
After the game, we talked to Pauley. He still was not sure what was going on, other that that he was on call for the parent team. He said he was happy just to be on call. He was not sure if he would be reporting to McCoy or Fenway Monday.
Monday, when Pawtucket played a day game, Pauley was in the clubhouse. He smiled when I saw him and asked the obvious, ``Still here, huh?’’
Today, both of us were at Fenway. I did not know what was going on when he walked into the clubhouse. Theo Epstein had been in the clubhouse earlier and was on the phone as he was leaving. Francona’s meeting with the media had been moved back a few minutes from its usual 4 p.m. start. I went up to Pauley and asked what was going on. He said he had gotten the call to report.
``About 15 mintes ago,’’ he said.
``Where were you?’’ I asked.
``At a hotel here in Boston. They told me to come up last night and stay just in case. I got a call a couple hours ago saying no, then another call about 15 minutes ago saying yes. I was going to stay here for a little while, just in case.’’
``What’s the situation?’’
``I’m starting, as far as I know?’’
``Oh. Sorry I shouldn’t be bothering you.’’
``Nah. It’s fine,’’ he said.
Manny Delcarmen came in and went over and welcomed Pauley, who was given a locker between Javy Lopez and Julian Tavarez. Cora came in, saw Pauley and went over and gave him a hug.
A short time later, when the reporters who had been at Francona’s press conference arrived, a couple went over and chatted with Pauley. Pauley talked to them, too.
If he was nervous or uptight, he sure was not showing it.
Outfielder Coco Crisp, who hasn't played since last Tuesday because of a strained hamstring, felt better today. Manager Terry Francona said it's possible Crisp could return to the starting lineup Thursday against Angels left-hander Joe Saunders.
It's possible that, out of necessity, Crisp may be pressed into service tonight and tomorrow night because the Red Sox have a shortage of outfielders. Boston has three healthy outfielders -- Manny Ramirez, Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew. The Sox had been using utilityman Joe Thurston as the fourth outfielder since his recall from Pawtucket last week, but that lineup option for Francona disappeared this afternoon when Thurston was designated for assignment to make room for tonight's starting pitcher, David Pauley.
Alex Cora, meanwhile, still is about a week away from even being cleared to start throwing again. Cora has a right elbow strain. He took batting practice on the field this afternoon. Francona said the team will re-evaluate the utility infielder next Monday or Tuesday, after their road series this weekend against Tampa Bay.
Third baseman Mike Lowell, on the disabled list since April 10 because of a strained left thumb, took batting practice on the field this afternoon for the first time since suffering the injury.
And manager Terry Francona was pleased with what he saw.
"He looked good," said Francona, who was watching to see if Lowell was "nursing the bat" through the hitting zone, but didn't see that problem.
Francona said it would important to see tomorrow how the thumb reacted from today's workout. If there is no issue, Lowell will again hit on the field tomorrow. The earliest he could go out on a rehab assignment would be this weekend, Francona said, but there is no guarantee that Lowell will be in a minor-league lineup by then.
Jason Varitek remains out of commission because of the flu bug that has knocked a few members of the Sox off their feet over the last week or so.
He's out of the starting lineup tonight for the third straight game, with Kevin Cash again starting behind the plate.
The Red Sox began casting about for backup catching help yesterday when manager Terry Francona received the news about Josh Beckett's stiff neck, which is keeping him from making tonight's start.
So instead of promoting a legitimate catcher from Pawtucket to back up Cash, the red Sox had to call up a pitcher, which turned out to be David Pauley for the start in place of Beckett. Joe Thurston (designated for assignment) was going to be the roster move anyway, but the Pauley-for-Thurston swap leaves Boston without a backup catcher.
Should anything happen to Cash tonight, Francona said second baseman Dustin Pedroia would serve as the emergency catcher.
"He says he can go back there," said Francona. "At this point, that's good enough for me. We'll get him some equipment that will fit him."
Varitek isn't the only member of the Sox who was instructed to stay out of the clubhouse for fear of contaminating anyone else. Strength and conditioning coach David Page is off his feet because of the bug, too.
The utilityman, called up from Pawtucket last Wednesday, was designated for assignment this afternoon to make room for right-hander David Pauley, who was promoted from Pawtucket to take the place of Josh Beckett (stiff neck) on the mound for tonight's start against the Angels.
Thurston appeared in four games, including one start, on Patriots Day. He was hitless in eight at-bats.
Josh Beckett, scheduled to start tonight's game against the Angels, was scratched from the assignment because of a stiff neck.
Beckett had been bothered by the flu bug/chest cold issue that has been running rampant through the Red Sox clubhouse. Manager Terry Francona said he didn't know whether the illness was a contributing factor to the stiff neck, but he and the medical staff didn't think it was worth the risk to send him to the mound tonight.
The Sox made a hasty call to Pawtucket and plucked right-hander David Pauley to take Beckett's place tonight. Pauley had been scratched from his scheduled start for Pawtucket on Sunday in case Clay Buchholz, also feeling the effects of the flu, wasn't able to make his start on Patriots Day. Buchholz did start, so Pauley is available tonight.
Pauley spent last night in a hotel in Boston. The Sox called him around 2 o'clock and told him he wouldn't be needed, but they called back at 4 o'clock and told him he'd be pitching tonight.
Francona said he didn't know how long Beckett would be out of action. It's possible he could be re-inserted into the rotation in a matter of days, or he could just miss a turn and pitch again in Tampa on Sunday, which would be his next scheduled start.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Happy stories all around
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. All's right for the Red Sox fans of the world, as our conversation topics suggest: the team's fast start (same record through 21 games as they had en route to the World Series last year), Jacoby Ellsbury's standout play of late and Julio Lugo responding to the challenge from young Jed Lowrie. Also, Sean provides a briefing on the L.A. Angels, who hit Fenway for three games beginning tonight.
And this, my friends, is how controversy starts. For one thing, it reopens the Should Joba Be A Starter? debate. (Kevin Kernan of the Post says yes, and thinks Hank is a hero for saying so. Mets' relief ace Billy Wagner, of all people, tells the Daily News no, Joba should stay where he is.) Far more importantly, says the Daily News' Mike Lupica, it looks for all the world like a return to the Steinbrenner Modus Operandi we came to know so well during the reign of King George: A way "for Hank Steinbrenner to start running off Cashman the way his old man used to run off general managers and managers and even PR guys in the old days." Undercutting his subordinates, second-guessing their decisions (read: the failure to trade for Johan Santana), short-circuiting carefully developed organizational strategies because the team went 10-10 in its first 20 games . . . it all sounds delightfully familiar to Yankee-haters. Not to mention what it does for the confidence of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, whose struggles apparently prompted this latest eruption. (Andy Pettitte sticks up for them in the Daily News.)
WHY DIDN'T YOU CALL? The Cubs were told Johan Santana wanted to be traded to an East Coast team that spent spring training in Florida -- criteria they fail on both counts -- so they never got seriously involved in negotiations with the Twins. But now Santana is saying he'd have considered playing for the Cubs had they asked him if he were interested. (Chicago Sun-Times)