BALTIMORE _ The Brothers Woo literally caught history last night.
Sitting in Section 94, seats 15 and 16 Saturday night at Orioles Park at Camden Yards, Damon and Jason Woo caught Manny Ramirez’s 500th home run ball. Actually Damon, 40, was the one who ended up with it. He caught the ball on the fly and dropped to the ground as his brother covered him until Baltimore police quickly made their way to their seats and escorted the two to the Red Sox clubhouse.
“Nobody was going to take it away from us,” said Woo.
The two brothers played golf earlier in the day at Andrews Air Force Base and Damon joked that he would be the way to catch it. He’s not going to hang onto it, however, because as soon as the Red Sox beat the Orioles 6-3, Damon gave it back to Ramirez.
“It belongs to him,” said Woo. “It’s his accomplishment. It’s his achievement. It’s his ball. He said I could borrow it for the night, but it’s his. That’s the right thing to do.”
Actually Woo and his brother were hanging around the Sox’ clubhouse waiting for it to clear out so he could officially give it back to Ramirez, who plans on giving it to a local children’s charity in Boston.
A ball of this significance could make Woo a nice sum of money, but the Nahant, Mass., native and Manhattan resident felt it best to return it to the rightful owner.
“They are so nice, and I’m just happy to have the ball,” Ramirez said.
He said he wanted to take a picture with it with his children before handing over to his local charity. In fact, Ramirez is donating $1,000 for every homer he hits this season. No. 500 was his 10th of 2008.
Manny might have his ball back, but teammate Julio Lugo has the bat that Ramirez hit the homer with. Ramirez promised Lugo the bat a while ago, and before anyone could talk to Lugo he placed the bat in a white sanitary sock, tied it up and scooted out of the clubhouse.
Woo and his brother made a few phone calls, but they couldn’t get in touch with anyone back in Boston and New York.
“They must be out drinking in the bars, watching the game and enjoying it,” said Damon Woo. “Hopefully they saw me for a moment.”
Manny Ramirez hit his 500th career home run in the seventh inning of tonight's game at Baltimore. The solo shot off former Red Sox reliever Chad Bradford put the Sox on top, 5-3. Ramirez is the 24th member of baseball's 500-home-run club.
Sox move Thursday night starting time to 6:05 p.m.
Because Game One of the NBA Finals will be tipping off shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday night, the Red Sox have changed the starting time of their home game that evening, against the Rays, from 7:05 to 6:05 p.m.
Most baseball games last around three hours, so the Sox game should be over by the time the Celtics' game begins.
"We have decided to start our game on Thursday one hour earlier in order that fans may enjoy not only Red Sox baseball but also Game 1 of the NBA Finals," club president/CEO Larry Lucchino said in a statement released by the team early Saturday evening. "On behalf of everyone in our organization, I want to congratulate the Boston Celtics on their Eastern Conference Championship, and we will be rooting for them in their quest to bring another World Title to the fans of Boston and New England."
The Sox also have home games on the same days as Games Two, Three and Four. There should be no conflict for Game Two, on Sunday, June 8 -- the Sox' game against the Mariners is scheduled to begin at 1:35 p.m., while the Celtics and Lakers again won't play until 9 -- but they will be facing the same situation for Games Three and Four. On both nights (Tuesday, June 10, and Thursday, June 12) they're scheduled to play the Orioles at 7:05 at Fenway and the Celts and Lakers will play in Los Angeles at 9 Eastern time. It will be interesting to see if they switch the starting times of those games, as well.
The Sox are on the road when the Celtics are playing Games Five, Six and Seven, and thus will have no control over their starting times.
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka met with the local and international media just a few minutes ago and assured everyone he's fine.
The right-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a mild rotator-cuff strain. He was removed from his last start in the fifth inning last Tuesday in Seattle. While the Red Sox traveled here Thursday, Dice-K returned to Boston where he underwent an MRI Friday morning.
He rejoined the team here Friday night and was working out at Camden Yards today. He admitted he wasn't too concerned with his shoulder, but was glad to know everything is fine after the testing.
"I know everybody on the team is tired," he said. "Even though I might feel okay, the club has told me to take this time and rest up and heal. Even though I appreciate the rest and protection I'm getting, I do feel bad I'm the only one getting rest at this time."
Matsuzaka is 8-0 this season, but he doesn't want to dwell on this setback too much.
"Dwelling on it won't help me heal any faster," he said. "It's too bad that no matter how hard I work out right now, it won't affect the outcome of the game. I'm going to treat this like a mini-camp."
BALTIMORE -- Pitcher Clay Buchholz has been reinstated from the disabled list and optioned to Pawtucket.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona made the announcement earlier today. The Sox held a conference call with Buchholz, GM Theo Epstein, Francona, pitching coach John Farrell and PawSox manager Ron Johnson.
"We just want to make sure he understood what we're trying to do," said Francona. "We're trying to take out the [element] of him concerning about the linescore. He can go be consistent and pound the strike zone with his fastball. He can work on his arm slot and things like that."
Buchholz finished spring training strong and made the rotation out of camp. The Red Sox didn't want him to think this was some kind of demotion. This will be a chance from the young right-hander to continue to hone his skills without any added pressure at this point.
"There were some things that needed to be worked on," said Francona. "This is probably the best opportunity to do it."
One of the main things, according to Francona, was Buchholz's ability to be consistent with his fastball.
"His off-speed stuff is probably as good as anybody's in the game," said the manager. "Again, some times you just need a little more time to finish up what you're doing. We'll continue to monitor it, because of how important he is to where we're going."
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was back with his teammates Friday night after undergoing an MRI in Boston the same morning.
The right-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a mild rotator-cuff strain. He arrived here late Friday, but manager Terry Francona told Dice-K to go to the team's hotel instead of the ballpark.
***Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis snapped an 0-for-18 skid with a single in the 13th inning Friday night.
***The Orioles struck out a season-high 17 times Friday night. Red Sox starter Josh Beckett recorded 10 of them.
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo leads the majors with 12 errors this season, including five in the last 16 games. He almost cost the Red Sox again lFriday night with his defensive, but thanks to quick reflexes – and an extremely slow Kevin Millar – Lugo was saved.
In the bottom of the 12th inning with two runners for Baltimore, Millar hit a routine grounder to Lugo. It appeared to be an easy double play, but the shortstop bobbled the ball and was forced to hurry the throw to first to at least get one out, which he did.
The runners now stood at second and third, so with first open the Sox decided to intentionally walk the Orioles’ Luke Scott. That proved crucial because reliever Mike Timlin got Ramon Hernandez to fly out to left field to end the inning and threat.
“Sticking with that ball, I don’t want to say it had disaster written all over it, but he stayed with it enough and got the out. That was a huge play,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
Lugo, who did not start the game, felt pretty confident after the victory.
“I just want to get one out,” he said. “I was trying to get two, but then I bobbled it. I went to first and got the out.”
BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox tried something Friday night that you don’t normally see.
In the second inning with one out and Coco Crisp standing on third base, Red Sox manager Terry Francona called for a suicide squeeze with Alex Cora at the plate.
Crisp had previously reached on a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He stole third when Francona gave the sign. Crisp broke for home, but Cora couldn’t execute the play successfully and missed the pitch. Crisp was tagged out only a few feet from home plate.
Francona explained that since Crisp did a lot of leg work to get to third, and since Cora is probably the team’s best bunter, the manager felt it was a perfect time to drop one down.
Unfortunately it didn’t work.
“Take note of it because you probably won’t see it again until spring training,” said Francona. “Next time you’ll see it is probably in Winter Haven, because it doesn’t work. You just need to stay out of the way and let good players play.”
BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox stole six bases Friday night against the Orioles to set a new franchise record. They had stolen five bases six times. Jacoby Ellsbury led the way with three, which is the most by a Red Sox player since Jerry Remy had a club record four on June 14, 1980.
Manager Terry Francona said after the team’s 5-2 victory, it’s not like he planned to run as much as the Sox did Friday night, it was just the right time to do son.
“It’s completely game situations,” said Francona. “A couple of them they weren’t going to throw through. A guy like Mike Lowell, we don’t ever tell him before a game that in the whatever inning he’s going to steal third. That’s just a heads-up guy taking advantage. We ran the bases aggressively, but smartly.”
Ellsbury now has 23 swipes this season.
“We weren’t scoring runs, but we were moving our legs and getting into scoring position,” he said. “We didn’t get the big hits, but we put ourselves in a position to.”
Even Mike Lowell stole a base in the 13th inning that set up a much-needed insurance run.
If anyone listened very carefully Friday night at Camden Yards, you could almost hear the chants of “Sign Mike Lowell. Sign Mike Lowell. Sign Mike Lowell” that fans were screaming after he was named World Series MVP last October in Denver.
He obviously did resign with the Red Sox during the offseason, leaving a bigger pay check on the table to stay in Boston. And, he hasn’t let those fans down. Friday night was a perfect example.
The man fouled a pitch off the top of his foot in the sixth inning and was clearly in pain. That didn’t matter because he stayed in the game and provided the game-winning hit in the top of the 13th inning as Boston eventual won, 5-2.
With Manny Ramirez on second via a throwing error, Lowell delivered a RBI single off Orioles reliever Chad Bradford.
“I was just looking to get my hands out,” said Lowell. “Bradford is a really uncomfortable at-bat. He doesn’t throw hard – velocity-wise – but you don’t pick up the ball until real late. It gets on you quick and I can’t say I had a special formula or anything. I was just looking to put a good swing, maybe make him elevate it a little, and it worked out great. We were able to capitalize on some of their mistakes.”
Not only did Lowell provide the game-winning hit, he also stole third and later scored an insurance run because of his heads-up on the bases.
“I can talk about Lowell doing a lot of things,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Running the bases, making plays at third and we needed a hit at some point because we were getting (pitching) thin. . . He’s a tough guy and always has been. He plays the game. He’ll play nine or 12 or 13 (innings). He’s a good baseball player and he’s a tough kid.”
The job Lowell has done and continues to do certainly doesn’t go unnoticed around the clubhouse. Red Sox starter Josh Beckett has played with Lowell in both Florida and Boston, and he’ll always sing his praise.
“He is one of the smartest baseball players probably to have ever lived,” said Beckett. “I don’t know what his success rate is on stealing bases (27-for-39), but he’s probably right up there with Ellsbury. He doesn’t have as many steals in a year as Ellsbury, but generally when he tries to steal a base he’s safe. He knows how to play the game. He made a great play in the 13th inning because that first out is always a big one.”
That play Beckett was talking about was the first out of the 13th inning for Baltimore. The Orioles’ Adam Jones hit a grounder to the left side, which Lowell snared and made an accurate throw to get the always crucial first out.
“It’s either going to end up in the 13th row or hit Youk right in the chest, so it worked out,” said Lowell. “The first out of the inning is very important with Pap because you’re able to squash anything they are able to get out of him.”
Most of the talk after Friday’s victory was the fact the Sox’ bullpen served up zeros after it came in relief of Beckett, who went six solid inning and allowed two runs on only four hits. But, it was the bullpen that credited Lowell with the victory.
“Mike’s awesome,” said Mike Timlin. “He plays the game right. He’s highly intelligent. He does the right thing at the right time. He doesn’t try to overdue anything. He stays calm in pressure situations and I love having him there.”
BALTIMORE _ When you’re not scoring runs, your pitchers can’t allow them.
That’s exactly what the bullpen was able to do for Boston last night as the Red Sox defeated the Orioles 5-2 in a four hour and 49-minute marathon that needed 13 innings to play here at Orioles Park at Camden Yards.
Entering the 13th inning the Boston Red Sox had scored a total of only five runs in the previous 43 innings of this current road trip. Not a very flattering statistics.
In the fourth extra frame last night, Boston scored three unearned runs the hard way en route to victory. After Manny Ramirez, who is still one homer shy of 500 for his career, reached on an error and advanced to second on the same play, Mike Lowell provided the would-be game-winning hit. The Red Sox pushed across two more before Jonathan Papelbon earned his 15th save of the season.
After a torrid trip (1-6) through Oakland and Seattle, the Red Sox were back at their home away from home at Orioles Park at Camden Yards last night. A sea of red, white and blue Red Sox jerseys and hats overwhelmed the Baltimore fans as a good number of the 46,199 in attendance were part of The Nation.
“This feels a lot better than losing,” said Lowell. “Our bullpen did a great job. . . Giving up only two runs in 13 innings is a pretty good job.”
The score was knotted at 2-2 from the fourth inning on, and after Josh Beckett worked six solid innings, allowing just two runs on four hits with only three walks and 10 strikeouts, his bullpen put up enough zeros to allow the offense to finally do something in the end.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona used a total of six relievers, including Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Javier Lopez, Craig Hansen, Mike Timlin (3-3) and Papelbon.
“I think both the bullpens did a really good job,” said Beckett. “I was obviously happy with the way our guys did, but they had some guys do some good things, too.
The Red Sox needed their ace to come though in a big way last night.
Early yesterday afternoon Boston placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list with a mild rotator-cuff strain, so Beckett wanted to give the Sox something to be happy about during this tough three-city, 10-game road trip.
“They made him work,” said Francona. “He’s facing a lineup that pretty much one through nine he has faced him a lot. They made him work and he was able to pitch out of a big jam late, and they made him throw a lot of pitches. Other than the home run and the other run early, he kept them at bay. That was good because after we scored those two runs (in the first inning, it took us about four and a half hours to get another one.”
This victory was key for the struggling Sox, and even though Francona always talks about living and play for that day only, everyone in the clubhouse after the game was relieved.
“This was a big win,” said Julio Lugo. “We needed it. Definitely we needed it.”
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew is out of the lineup tonight with a bout of vertigo.
Drew first felt something Thursday night and he was put on medication this morning. This is the second time he's had it. Fellow outfielder Coco Crisp had it earlier this season, too.
“I’ve had it a couple of times before,” said Drew. “It’s just one of them things that you hope doesn’t stick around for a while. Fortunately, it hasn’t stuck around in the past.”
**With Daniel Cabrera pitching for the O’s, Alex Cora will play short tonight. He’s had success against Cabrera, going 11-for-23 (.478) with one home run.
**When Jeff Bailey walked into the clubhouse this afternoon, almost every Red Sox player and coach went out of their way to say hi. Bailey is one of the most respected players in the Sox' organization, and the players in Boston are very happy he's been called up for the weekend.
The right-handed hitter is clearly locked in at the plate for the PawSox. At the time of his recall, he was hitting .318 with 16 homers and 44 RBI in 50 games for Pawtucket.
“He’s doing great,” said Francona. “He knows this could be short term. When we send guys down we always tell them that if they do good there’s a chance they’ll get called up. He’s a great kid and has always made a good impression on the staff during spring training. He does his work, goes about his business and doesn’t complain.”
Bailey, a catcher by trade when he first began his pro career, has played mainly first base and the outfield for the PawSox. It will be that versatility that will come in handy for the Red Sox this weekend, especially with J.D. Drew out with vertigo.
“There’s not much more I can ask for,” Bailey said. “I had to earn it, and I feel like I have. It will probably be only three days, but that’s fine. It’s just nice to be recognized.”
The 29-year-old made his major-league debut with the Red Sox last summer, and went 1-for-9 in three games. His one hit was a home run at Detroit.
Matsuzaka placed on 15-day DL with 'mild rotator-cuff strain'
BY JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox have placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list with what they're describing as "a mild rotator cuff strain."
Jeff Bailey, as was reported earlier today, has been recalled from Pawtucket and will take Matsuzaka's roster spot for the weekend. On Tuesday, the Sox will recall a pitcher -- Justin Masterson is the likeliest candidate -- to take Dice-K's spot in the rotation.
Dice-K was examined by team doctor Thomas Gill earlier today and he underwent an MRI in Boston.
"The real good news was there is no structural changes, which is really good news The final diagnosis is a mild deltoid rotator cuff strain,” said Francona. “The best way we can see to attack this is to take the time to strengthen it and get him ready to pitch the rest of the season.”
Francona spent about a half hour with his office door here at Camden Yards closed during a conference call with GM Theo Esptein and Matsuzaka.
Francona was asked if the right-hander, who was removed from Tuesday's start in Seattle due to fatigue, tried to fight his trip to the DL.
"A little bit, which is good," Francona said. "That's good news because that means he feels good about himself. That's what good pitches and good players do. That's part of the reason they're good."
PawSox first baseman/outfielder Jeff Bailey has been called up to Boston. He's expected to join the team in Baltimore today. It's likely he'll remain with the Red Sox through this four-game series against the Orioles and then be sent back to Pawtucket come Tuesday when Boston will need to call up a pitcher.
Bailey is hitting .318 with 16 homers and 44 RBI for the PawSox. He's second on the team with 27 walks. He's been on a tear of late. Three times on the team's last home stand he produced a two-homer game. In fact, he had four in the month of May.
Red Sox named 2008 Professional Sports Team of the Year
The Boston Red Sox were bestowed with the award for 2008 Professional Sports Team of the Year in the inaugural Sports Business Awards. Other sports franchises nominated for the award include the Buffalo Sabres, Hendrick Motorsports, Phoenix Suns and Toronto FC.
The Sports Business Awards, presented by Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily, were initiated to recognize the best that the sports business has to offer. The award ceremonies, held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City Thursday night, recognized the Red Sox for being "baseball’s gold-standard operation” and “the game’s unofficial organizational leaders”, for the ballclub’s efforts “to expand internationally”, “build a sponsorship base that has tripled during (this) six-year ownership tenure” and “successfully renovate storied Fenway Park”. Principal owner John W. Henry also received a nomination for Sports Executive of the Year.
The 2008 season is the 108th season in the illustrious history of the ballclub and the 7th for the current ownership led by Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president/CEO Larry Lucchino. Under their stewardship, the franchise has won two World Series championships while selling out Fenway Park for 414 consecutive games dating back to May 15, 2003, second only to the 455 by the Cleveland Indians and a record the organization hopes to surpass later this season.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: What impresses us about Masterson
Click here to listen to Sean's daily audio report, which is audio only today (if we get someone freed up later today, we might be able to add pictures later). The topics: What impresses Sean about Justin Masterson, teams' inability to catch Jacoby Ellsbury clean on stolen-base attempts, fan voting for the All-Star Game, and Sean's favorite road stops.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Masterson: "I think he's remarkably poised and mature. That's one of the things I think that impressed the Red Sox so much even from the first start, where he didn't seemed rattled at all in making his major-league debut, having not pitched above Double-A for more than half a season, on the mound at Fenway against a pretty good team in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It was like he was facing another team in the Eastern League, and it was the same thing when he made his second start. So I think the poise and composure and maturity -- all those things, and you know, those things are fine, but you have to be able to get hitters out, and he can do that too. He's got that three-quarter kind of whip-it-like delivery that reminds some people of Dennis Eckersley, and he's got a nice heavy sink to his fastball that makes him very tough, combined with his delivery, on right-handed hitters, and gets him a lot of groundballs. So there's not much not to like about Justin Masterson."
On the All-Star voting by fans: "I think we can go through this and do go through this every summer, where we point to some player who's deserving of an All-Star starting bid and who doesn't get one. You mentioned Josh Hamilton and some guys on the Rays. Certainly Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox would be another person in there. There's some guys in the National League having surprise seasons. Those kind of things you can't anticipate. I think in general, you know, fans are going to vote for players who they recognize, and who have established themselves a little bit. And furthermore, they're going to vote for guys who are on high-profile teams. That's why the Yankees dominated so much of the balloting in the '90s, when they won four World Series in five years, and now that the Red Sox have sort of perhaps eclipsed them as the national team, if you will, with two World Series wins in the last four seasons, their players are benefiting from that. It's never going to be perfect. I think even if the players or coaches and managers did the selecting, there'd be some oversights there. So I think that in general this is a game for the fans, and they get to determine who they want to see, and I think that there's nothing wrong with that."
ONE AND DONE? Justin Masterson's stay in Pawtucket might not be a long one, not with the Red Sox probably in need of another starter next Tuesday. If so, his first appearance at McCoy Stadium -- which he made last night against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (above) -- might be his last, at least for a while. And he made it a memorable one, reports Shalise Manza Young, throwing six strong innings in what everyone assumes was a tuneup for a start against the Rays at Fenway Park next week. Masterson and PawSox manager Ron Johnson review the performance (favorably, of course) and Johnson, for good measure, also gives a thumbs-up to a batch of butterscotch-oatmeal cookies baked by Masterson's wife. She apparently enjoys delivering cookies to the clubhouse of whatever team her husband is with; she could be dropping some off in Boston in five days.
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Rumors are flying that Jeff Bailey might be joining the Red Sox for their weekend series in Baltimore; Joe McDonald reported them Wednesday and the Boston Globe's Gordon Edes repeated them today. We'll find out this afternoon sometime whether or not they're true, and if they are Bailey made his farewell to McCoy -- temporary though it may be -- one for the books. Young relates he had his second two-home-run game of the homestand in the PawSox' 5-2 win, and also had two pitches thrown behind his head by Scranton/WB starter Dan McCutchen. That little bit of Red Sox/Yankee nastiness earned McCutchen and his manager, Dave Miley, the 'ol heave-ho.
SPEAK FOR YOURSELF: Javy Lopez, however, has been doing his job as a LOOGY -- Left-Handed One-Out GuY, for those of you unaware with the term (though I doubt many people here fit that description) -- to perfection. (Not that Terry Francona only uses him for a batter at a time, but he's been much better against left-handers this year than he was in 2007.) He talks about his season with Joe Haggerty on the Hacks With Haggs blog.
WRONG COUNT: Baseball Musings' David Pinto examines Matsuzaka's game logs and concludes the Red Sox are "more interested in limiting his innings than his pitches," since Matsuzaka's highest pitch-count games have come in those instances when he's walking a lot of batters. Pinto sees walks as a sign that a pitcher's mechanics may be off; bad mechanics, he adds, may be a sign of fatigure, and fatigue can lead to injury.
TAKE YOUR PICK: You can either choose to believe that the Yankees' pilot light has been extinguished (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) or that they're just a hot streak away from another late playoff run. (New York Observer) The Star-Tribune's case, I have to say, would carry more weight if it hadn't described the Horace Clarke Era as being in the mid-1970s. As we well know around here, Clarke was long gone by then and the Yankees won the pennant in 1976 and the World Series in 1977 and '78.
WAVING THE CAP: In a fascinating look at the salary-cap structure in the four major sports, Mark Cuban concludes MLB and the NFL can survive without a salary cap, but it's necessary in the NBA and NHL. (blogmaverick.com) Why? Because for a sport to survive without a cap "it must be a [sport] where it takes more than 1 or 2 players to lead a team to a championship. Otherwise, the richest teams can just buy those 2 players, with a 3rd as insurance, which means the competitive balance of the league is purely dependent on finances. That is not a good position to be in." While you may dismiss these as simply the musings of an NBA owner, ShysterBall's Craig Calcaterra thinks Cuban may end up owning the Cubs when all is said and done.
SO WHO'S WILLIE AND THE DUKE? The Dallas Morning News' Tim MacMahon says Josh Hamilton is the modern-day Mickey Mantle, from his on-field talents to his substance-abuse problems.
LOCAL BOYS: Pinto fingers the struggling Paul Konerko as one of the reasons that offense in the American League is down. But he had a good game last night against the Rays, and if he begins to hit more like Paul Konerko that bodes very well for the surprising White Sox.
RHP Justin Masterson, making his first career triple-A start tonight against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, got off to a good start. Pitching in his first game since May 20, when he recorded his first career major league win with the Red Sox, Masterson had a 1-2-3 first inning, throwing 13 pitches. He struck out shortstop Alberto Gonzalez on three pitches.
It is widely believed that Masterson will pitch for Boston in place of Daisuke Matsuzaka on Tuesday; his start tonight was moved up two days, which puts him in line for that date.
Twins claim former Red Sox smart guy Craig Breslow
AP photo / Charles Krupa
Craig Breslow pitches for the Sox in 2006.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Minnesota Twins claimed left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, formerly of the Red Sox, off waivers, a week after he was let go by the Cleveland Indians.
Breslow posted a 3.24 ERA in seven appearances for the Indians, allowing 10 hits and five walks with seven strikeouts in 8 1-3 innings. The Indians let him go when closer Joe Borowski came off the disabled list on May 23.
Breslow was expected to join the team before Friday's game against the New York Yankees. It's his fourth team in four years.
Right-hander Pat Neshek, who is probably out for the season with an elbow injury, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster.
The 27-year-old Breslow graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. He split time with the Boston Red Sox and their Triple-A team the last two seasons.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: They forgot to bring their bats
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning in Seattle. The topics: Boston's offensive slump, Erik Bedard, Tim Wakefield, the potential return of Justin Masterson, and whether Kevin Youkilis can get the offense going again.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
"Something's happened to the offense, and it can't all be the opposing pitching, although there's been some good guys that they've faced on this trip, Erik Bedard being the perfect example last night two-hitting them through seven innings. But two of those five losses have been shutouts, in those losses they have combined for a grand total of three hits."
"Wakefield has made some adjustments mechanically since his last start. He had given up 17 runs in 14 innings in the three outings prior to last night and, you know, one of the hallmarks of his career has been that he is notoriously streaky up or down. So I think the thing that the Red Sox can perhaps take out of last night is that that outing may have been the beginning of the turnaround and they can expect him to maybe get on one of his rolls, which they could use."
NO, IT IS GOOD NEWS: The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman says a little time off would be a good thing for Matsuzaka, as indeed for almost any pitcher. And he points out the team has been superb in managing their workloads because "[saving] bullets, so their pitchers still have some and some with pop, for a seven-month season is the name of the game for the Red Sox."
THE DOMINO EFFECT: With Matsuzaka almost certain to miss his next start -- even if Francona wouldn't say so -- the Sox began some organizational shifting to get ready. Joe McDonald reports Justin Masterson's first start at Pawtucket is being pushed up two days, from Saturday to tonight, which would put him in line to pitch Tuesday in Boston. Matsuzaka's next scheduled start is Monday but, because of today's off-day, Tim Wakefield can pitch Monday on normal rest.
GO WITH THE FLOW: McDonald talked to Masterson about the whole thing and he expressed confidence in the way the team has handled him so far. "They know what they’re doing," he said of the Red Sox’ philosophy. "You have to buy in and know what they’re doing is to help you." That was in contrast to, say, Jon Lester, who chafed at the organization's pitch-count restrictions while he was working his way back to the big leagues last year. (McDonald quotes PawSox manager Ron Johnson as saying taking Lester out of a start when he'd reached his pitch-count limit "was never a delightful situation. It was like sticking a finger in your eye.")
MASTERSON? WHY NOT CLAY BUCHHOLZ? Because his next scheduled start is Friday, and he won't be ready to pitch either Monday or Tuesday.
STOLEN MEMORIES: I know it's been a long time since I thought of Patsy Dougherty or Heinie Wagner. But Jacoby Ellsbury brought them back to life last night when he stole his 20th base of the season, tying him for fifth place on the list of most steals by a Red Sox rookie. (projo.com)
PICK SIX: The Yankees are letting fans vote which six games should be included on the soon-to-be-released Essential Games of Yankee Stadium DVD. And no, don't think you can flood the ballot box with votes for Games Six or Seven of the 2004 ALCS; the games have been pre-selected and you have to choose from a list.
YANKED AROUND: A self-proclaimed "diehard Yankees fan" says the team reneged on its promise to give him 15 All-Star Game tickets in exchange for a pair of home-run balls he caught during a game last year. (New York Post) The Yankees say they promised nothing of the sort.
I BEG YOUR PARDON? The Daily News' Filip Bondy can't believe some of the crowd totals being released by the Mets, who, he says, have "successfully . . . taken over the lead [from the Knicks] for fabricating attendance figures."
SEATTLE -- The Mariners thought they had caught Jacoby Ellsbury leaning the wrong way in the third inning, but after a pickoff throw forced Ellsbury to take off for second, the throw to second by Miguel Cairo was errant, allowing Ellsbury to successfully steal second. That was Ellsbury's 20th steal of the season, moving him into a tie for fifth place in Red Sox history for most steals in a rookie season. He's even with Patsy Dougherty (1902) and Heinie Wagner (1907). Next on the list is Nomar Garciaparra, who had 22 in 1997.
* * *
The Sox are 3-11 in their last 14 games at Safeco Field.
* * *
Safeco Field hasn't been very hospitable for Tim Wakefield. Wakefield is 0-3 with a 3.20 ERA in seven games and has never won here. It's the only American League ballpark where Wakefield has yet to record a victory. Then again, he's never pitched well against the Mariners -- in Boston, at Safeco or the old Kingdome. He's winless in his last 18 appearances against them -- eight of those starts -- dating back to July 29, 1997.
Mariners 1, Red Sox 0: Boston bats go south out West
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE – If the Red Sox have any designs on winning on the road this season, maybe they should first concentrate on hitting on the road. Either way, they haven’t been doing much of either of late.
Losing for the ninth time in the last 10 road games, the Red Sox were blanked by the Seattle Mariners last night, 1-0, leaving them 1-5 through the first two stops of this three-city road trip.
Two of the five losses have come in shutouts. In those two games, the Sox combined for just three hits. In the six road games in the last week, the Sox are now hitting a not-so-robust .169. They’ve scored just 14 runs in those six games for an average of 2.2 runs, less than half of their season average of 4.98 per game.
Tim Wakefield made his best start of the season, allowing just five hits in eight innings while striking out a season-high eight and walking no one. But one of the five hits was a solo homer in the third to No. 9 hitter Yuniesky Betancourt, and that was the difference.
Erik Bedard limited the Sox to two hits over seven innings – both singles, and both in the fourth inning. The Sox didn’t collect another hit after the fourth.
"Bedard’s stuff was great," said manager Terry Francona, "but so was Wakefield’s. He left one ball up that carried out of the ballpark. Other than that, he was spectacular and we didn’t do anything to help him."
Wakefield, who has just one win since April 20, had allowed 17 earned runs in his previous 14 innings before last night. But some between-start fine-tuning corrected a mechanical problem and he was almost flawless.
"I felt a lot better than my last start," said Wakefield, who fell to 3-4. "I was able to control the strike zone better. I stayed back (in his delivery) a little more, allowing my arm to travel through the slot a little easier. I made some adjustments mechanically and it paid off. Obviously, it showed with the (improved) command of my knuckleball."
After the homer, Wakefield retired 10 of the next 11 hitters he faced and allowed just three more hits the rest of the way. But the offensive support he needed never materialized.
The Sox never got a baserunner past second base, but, thanks to some walks, had their opportunities. They stranded seven runners, including at least one in each of the final three innings.
In the eighth, with Bedard out of the game, J.D. Drew worked a leadoff walk against Brandon Morrow. But for the second night in a row, Julio Lugo’s late-inning bunt try was pushed too hard and Drew, the lead runner, was cut down at second on a fielder’s choice.
With closer J.J. Putz on in the ninth, Manny Ramirez worked a one-out walk and Sean Casey joined him two batters later, giving the Sox the potential tying run in scoring position and the potential go-ahead run at first.
But Putz got Coco Crisp to roll out to second to finish things.
"It’s a combination of things," said Dustin Pedroia when asked to explain the team’s offensive dip. "The strike zone’s been a little bigger and some pitchers have been throwing the ball well. I don’t know – we weren’t in two good hitter’s parks (Oakland and here). Just one of those things, I guess."
Though the Sox were held hitless in eight of the nine innings, Francona said his lineup "made Bedard work hard (109 pitches in seven innings). We just didn’t have anything to show for it."
Francona, too, cited some of the pitchers the Sox have seen to date, including Oakland’s Rich Harden and Seattle's Bedard and Felix Hernandez, as one of the reason’s for the team’s collective cooling off at the plate.
"They’ve been pounding the strike zone and working ahead," he said of the opponents. "They’ve done a good job against us."
In the meantime, the Sox have fallen 1 1/2 games behind the front-running Tampa Bay Rays, with four more road games awaiting, beginning tomorrow in Baltimore, where the Sox were 0-2 in a visit just two weeks ago.
A return home to Fenway Park seemingly can’t come soon enough.
But first, comes a day off on the schedule.
"Those are always good to have," said Pedroia. "It will be nice to step away."
Masterson to start Tuesday for Red Sox in Dice-K's spot?
BY JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
PAWTUCKET -- Justin Masterson was originally scheduled to make his Triple-A debut on Saturday in Durham. But now the Red Sox pitching prospect will start for Pawtucket on Thursday at McCoy Stadium, perhaps as preparation for another appearance in Boston next week.
Daisuke Matsuzaka had to leave Tuesday's game in Seattle because of shoulder fatigue, and both Matsuzaka and manager Terry Francona said they were unsure if Dice-K would be able to make his next scheduled start. By moving up Masterson's start, it would put him in line to pitch Tuesday, which -- because of Thursday's off day -- could be Matsuzaka's next turn in the rotation. Tim Wakefield, who is pitching tonight for the Sox in Seattle, could work Monday in Baltimore -- Matsuzaka's actual day to pitch -- on normal rest because of the off day.
Clay Buchholz, who is in Pawtucket on rehab assignment, will pitch Friday in Durham and thus would be unable to work either Monday or Tuesday.
If the Red Sox do, in fact, place Matsuzaka on the disabled list, don't be surprised if the club recalls hot-hitting Jeff Bailey from Pawtucket, especially since Kevin Youkilis has been hampered with a sore right hand. Bailey could help the Sox this weekend then sent back to Pawtucket once a pitcher (Masterson) is needed early next week.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: A painful night for Dice-K
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning from Seattle. the topics: Daisuke Matsuzaka's injury, the ejections of Terry Francona and Julio Lugo, and encouraging signs from Manny Ramirez.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Matsuzaka's postgame remarks re: his injury: "They were trying to leave the impression that, while it was up in the air and there was nothing definitive, that [the injury] wasn't anything terribly serious. Dice-K had his translator convey at the end the conversation with reporters that he wasn't overly concerned. If it is indeed just shoulder fatigue, then there really is nothing, you would not think, long-term to be too concerned about. But anytime you're talking about a pitcher in the prime of his career, as Matsuzaka is, to have either elbow or shoulder issues is significant in and of itself."
On Terry Francona's confrontation with umpire Angel Hernandez: "[Francona] initially went out just to sort of diffuse the situation and try to get Lugo out of the way before there was more trouble. But the longer he stayed, the angrier he got, because of comments that Hernandez gave him in response to some questions. Of course, [Francona] didn't get into any of that [in his comments after the game]. One thing that we sort of found comical in the press box -- and we're only ascribing it in our own interpretation -- but there was a point right after he was run, or maybe it was right before, when Francona, talking to Hernandez, signaled to all the people in the ball park, sort of gesturing wildly with his arm. And knowing managers as we do, and some things that get said in the heat of conversation, we could almost bet that it was something to the effect of, 'Hey, all these people didn't come here to see you perform,' which is often something that is said to umpires who get a little too big for their britches."
THERE ARE LOSSES, AND THEN THERE ARE LOSSES: The routine ones -- like last night's 4-3 defeat at the hands of the bottom-of-the-heap Mariners -- you can live with, no matter how gut-wrenching they may be . . . and, as Sean McAdam reports, this one was pretty gut-wrenching. (To wit: Losing on a two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth single.) But the big loss for the Red Sox last night wasn't in the standings. It was Daisuke Matsuzaka (above) having to leave the game in the top of the fifth inning because of "shoulder fatigue." Bill James once wrote that caution flags should fly when teams describe injuries in such vague terms, because what it actually means is, "He's hurt and we don't know why . . . and if we don't know why, we can't fix it." They'll attempt to get a more specific diagnosis today, but both Matsuzaka and Terry Francona were saying last night that Dice-K's next scheduled start -- at least -- is in question.
So what does it all mean? Well, for one thing, it looks like Clay Buchholz' stay in Pawtucket will be a short one. And for another, it just goes to show that the old saying -- the minute you think you have too much pitching is when you should go out and get some more -- rings true every time.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE . . . No one would ever accuse ex-Red Sox television broadcaster Sean McDonough of being a FOU (Friend of Umpires). He would routinely lambast the men in blue, more over their imperious attitudes than their actual job performance (though he didn't like that, either), and during a broadcast on May 31, 1998, he articulated his complaint against them in 23 words:
"In addition to being incompetent at their jobs, they're also combative, arrogant, and they create more problems than they solve on the field."
(Back in a former life, when I was the author of a daily blog known as Art's Notebook, I wrote it down.)
With all that in mind, may we present Angel Hernandez.
It's not that Hernandez is incompetent at his job -- he's actually known as a pretty good umpire (though the blog spudart.commight disagree) -- but combative? Arrogant? Creating more problems than he solves? Hernandez is a three-tool ump in those categories, and they were all on display last night in his inexplicable mid-inning ejection of Julio Lugo, which was followed soon afterwards by the tossing of Terry Francona (above). McAdam reports Lugo insists he did absolutely nothing to warrant getting thrown out -- he said Hernandez was staring at him, and gave him the thumb when he asked why he was looking at him -- and Francona (an "exasperated Francona," according to McAdam), said, "I wouldn't know where to begin" when asked for an explanation of what happened.
McAdam notes that Hernandez and Lugo have a history -- in April 2007, Hernandez denied Lugo's routine request for time out while he was in the batter's box and the Orioles' Daniel Cabrera delivered a strike after Lugo had stepped out; Lugo made some harsh comments afterwards (Boston Herald) -- and it couldn't be that Hernandez still remembers that. Could it?
The incident is already drawing commentary -- none too complimentary towards Hernandez -- in the blogosphere, on sites such as Sports of Boston and bleacher report. One of the more, ah, interesting takes on the incident is bleacher report's conclusion that subsequent in-game successes by David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were a result of their wanting "to take a stand for their Latin American teammate and friend!" Uh, yeah, whatever.
In any case, I'm sure we'll hear more about all this. But maybe all we needed to know was said almost 10 years ago to the day:
"In addition to being incompetent at their jobs, they're also combative, arrogant, and they create more problems than they solve on the field."
Protesters to the contrary? Your point of view was made a lot harder to defend last night.
The game, of course, will be played at the soon-to-be-closed Yankee Stadium and Francona probably hits the nail right at the head when he muses, "I can’t imagine a lot of (New York) fans will be thrilled that I’m sitting in the dugout." As for the Yankees, they hope their fans will start stuffing the ballot boxes soon so as many Yanks as possible can start in the game. (New York Post) Well, okay, they didn't use those words exactly, but that's what they meant. Wait a minute, I take that back; Derek Jeter did use those words. (New York Daily News)
DUSTIN FOR THE DEFENSE: Baseball Musings' David Pinto uses a nice play by Dustin Pedroia Monday night as a jumping-off point for a discussion on defensive range and positioning. On a somewhat related defensive note: I'm a subscriber to Bill James Online and among the treasure trove of information available are in-season fielding statistics from John Dewan's The Fielding Bible. Those stats rank Pedroia as the fourth-best defensive second baseman in baseball, through Monday's games. More accurately, it ranks him fourth in "the number of plays the player made, above/below the number that the average fielder would make."
POWERFUL FEAR: The sudden death of former Red Sox and PawSox pitcher Geremi Gonzalez when he was struck by lightning prompted Joe McDonald to ask some Pawtucket players about their experiences with lightning on the playing field. Some of them, like Charlie Zink, head to the dugout as soon as they see the first bolt in the distance.
THE FIRST SIGN OF SUCCESS: The Rays are beginning to attract bandwagon followers. Among the first: The blog RaysGeek, previously known as MetsGeek. ("Unlike the Mets, we’ll never let you down. Because if the Rays’ season takes a turn for the worse, you can bet that we’ll be ready to jump ship again.") Its readers are thrilled, mainly because, as one wrote, "Finally I can root for [Scott] Kazmir without a guilty conscience."
"Here is Molina. Matsui at second with two out. The pitch swung on and hit in the air to right center. Ichiro going back, a way back in deep right center. It lands for a base hit! How do you like that? Matsui scores, Cano goes to second with a double. Oh, it's a ribbie double by Robbie Cano, don't you know, and the Yankees take the lead! A ribbie for Robbie! . . . Excuse me, that's Molina. What am I talking about?"
Late update: Here's the audio, spliced into the game video, via dailymotion.com:
I don't mean to be harsh on Sterling; I actually think he's a good announcer and he makes the game entertaining. But when he begins trotting out his catch phrases ("Robbie Cano! Doncha know!") for the wrong guy, it sort of like setting off fireworks at the wrong time. All you can do is laugh.
SEATTLE -- Minutes after Daisuke Matsuzaka left the game -- voluntarily -- Julio Lugo and Terry Francona did, too, though not of their own accord.
In the home half of the fifth inning, reliever David Aardsma threw a 1-and-0 pitch to Raul Ibanez. Believing that Ibanez had committed and swung through, the Sox asked home-plate umpire Eric Cooper to check with third-base umpire Angel Hernandez. Hernandez signaled "safe" with his arms, indicating Ibanez had held up and the pitch was a ball.
Lugo had been shouting "Check! Check!" from his shortstop position, indicating he wanted help from Hernandez on the pitch. After Hernandez ruled that Ibanez had held up, Lugo said the umpire was staring at him. When Lugo asked what he was staring at, Hernandez ejected him.
Lugo raced over to Hernandez for an explanation and the umpire several times turned away from the infielder, ignoring his question. Francona raced out to restrain Lugo and, not long after, got himself ejected, too.
"I didn't say nothing else," maintained Lugo after the game, a 4-3 Sox loss, had ended. "There's nothing else I can say. I don't know -- I don't understand. I just wanted to know why he threw me out."
Added an exasperated Francona: "I wouldn't know where to begin. I just wanted to get Lugo out of there and move on with the game."
Lugo and Hernandez have something of a history. In April of 2007, with the Sox playing the Orioles in Baltimore, Lugo asked for time to step out of the batter's box. The request, routinely granted by umpires in almost every circumstance -- on Tuesday night, for instance, Cooper called time when Manny Ramirez asked just as Mariners starter Miguel Batista was beginning his windup -- was denied by Hernandez, the home-plate umpire at the time, and a pitch by Daniel Cabrera called a strike.
At the time, Lugo said of Hernandez: "He's just hard to talk to. Personally, that guy, there's something wrong with him."
The ejections were the first this season for both Lugo and Francona, but the third team ejection on the current road trip. Hitting coach Dave Magadan was thrown out Friday night in Oakland.
Matsuzaka leaves game because of shoulder 'fatigue'; next start uncertain
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE -- Daisuke Matsuzaka left last night's start after four innings, the result of what the Red Sox termed "fatigue" in his right shoulder.
After giving up two runs in the first to the Seattle Mariners and another run in the third, Matsuzaka came out to begin his warmup tosses for the bottom of the fifth. After his second toss, he appeared to grab his lower back, bringing out a coterie of support from the visitor's dugout.
Following a brief discussion, Matsuzaka left the mound and the game.
"He felt some fatigue," said Terry Francona. "We're not going to run somebody out there (like that). There's just no sense in doing that."
The Sox manager was unsure whether Matsuzaka would be able to make his next start, which is slated for Monday in Baltimore. He will undergo further tests and examinations today.
Francona said he knew that Matsuzaka was experiencing an issue with the shoulder earlier and that the team was monitoring him. When there wasn't much life on his warmup tries, the Sox didn't hesitate to yank him from the start.
"Even before I went up on the mound," said Matsuzaka, "I felt things were a little off in the bullpen. I wouldn't go so far as to call it discomfort, but I wasn't at my best. I definitely felt there something wrong.
"I gave it a try, but I thought it best to stop . . . With so much season left and such a long way to go, we thought it would be best to come out of the game . . . Things just didn't' feel right."
Asked about his chances to make his next start, Matsuzaka said: "It's hard to say until we re-assess the situation until (today)."
Matsuzaka recalled that he had a "similar experience in the second or third year of my pro career," and that he had erred in attempting to pitch through that difficulty.
In 2002, which was Matsuzaka's fourth year in pro ball, he missed about half the season because of an elbow injury. It was not clear last night if that was the injury to which Matsuzaka had alluded.
Mariners 4, Red Sox 3: A night of losses all around
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE – It was night full of losses, beginning in mid-game and continuing right through to the bitter end in the bottom of the ninth.
First, the Red Sox lost Daisuke Matsuzaka to some sort of vague shoulder ailment. Then they lost Julio Lugo and Terry Francona, both to ejections by the same umpire, within minutes of one another.
Finally, they lost to the Seattle Mariners, something no other American League has been able to do since May 14. A two-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth by Jose Lopez off Mike Timlin snapped the Mariners’ seven-game losing streak and saddled the Sox with their fourth setback in five tries on the current road trip.
The Sox have lost eight of their last nine away from home.
With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Wladimir Balentien reached on an infield single to the shortstop hole. A bunt moved him to second and a groundout to the right side pushed him to third.
The Red Sox elected to intentionally walk Ichiro Suzuki and face Lopez instead, but the Seattle second baseman foiled the strategy by slapping a single past third baseman Mike Lowell, scoring Balentien with the winning run.
"We were trying to make Lopez beat us," said Francona, "and he beat us. It was the right thing to do; it just didn’t work out."
"At the end, I threw a decent pitch and got beat," said a frustrated Timlin. "That’s all it is. (The pitch to Lopez was) on the inside part of the plate, we’re trying to beat him inside. He turned on it."
The loss dropped Timlin to 0-6 with a 10.29 ERA at Safeco Field.
"Yeah, my luck (stinks) right now," said Timlin, now 2-3 overall this year. "This park . . . it doesn’t matter. Right now, for me, it just (stinks); it’s frustrating. I’m throwing the ball well. I’m locating the ball well and I’m getting beat. And I don’t like it."
Limited to two hits through the first five innings by Seattle starter Miguel Batista, the Sox erased a 3-0 deficit with one mighty swing from Manny Ramirez.
An error by normally sure-handed shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt allowed Dustin Pedroia to reach and David Ortiz followed with a sharp single to right.
Ramirez then drilled the first pitch from Batista into the right-field seats for career homer No. 499, his first since May 12, dating back 45 at-bats.
"What a nice swing," marveled Francona. "We were pretty quiet until that point."
The Sox had another opportunity to overtake the Mariners in the eighth after Pedroia worked a leadoff walk off Batista and Ortiz singled off lefty reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith.
But Brandon Morrow overpowered Ramirez and Mike Lowell, striking them both out swinging, and retired J.D. Drew on a soft liner to right, stranding two baserunners.
Matsuzaka, who began the game 8-0, was nicked for two runs in the first inning. Ichiro started things with a double, took third on a sacrifice by Lopez and scored on a fielder’s choice. Raul Ibanez then doubled home Jose Vidro with the second run.
In the third, a single by Ichiro, a stolen base, an error by Sean Casey and another fielder’s choice produced the third Seattle run.
When Matsuzaka came out to begin his warmup throws in the bottom of the fifth, he made it through just two before what seemed like half the Red Sox dugout had assembled at the mound.
Following a brief consultation, Matsuzaka exited for what the Sox later cryptically labeled "shoulder fatigue."
David Aardsma, Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima combined to keep the Mariners within reach, allowing just two hits and two walks though four innings of relief, until the fateful ninth.
* Kevin Youkilis is out of the lineup for a second straight night, battling some soreness in his right hand. Sean Casey is again his replacement at first.
The hope is that Youkilis got be back in the lineup tomorrow night when the Sox face Seattle lefty Erik Bedard. Then again, as Terry Francona noted today, Bedard's numbers are ``backward'' -- i.e., lefties are htting him better than righties -- so it wouldn't be the worst thing to have Casey play another day.
Francona was waiting until just before gametime tonight to see if Youkilis might be available for pinch-hitting duty.
* Francona spoke at length about his upcoming role as the manager of the American League All-Star team. The occasion was the the release of the first batch of voting results by fans, which puts a number of Red Sox regulars -- Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis -- leading at their respective positions.
* Now that Manny Ramirez has played his 2,000th game -- he jokingly invited everyone in the clubhouse to a party in celebration Monday night, giving out his room number -- he be placed in some sort of historical perspective.
Among the players who've reached the 2,000 game milestone, Ramirez is 10th in homers (498) and sixth in RBI (1,635).
* Finally, not surprisingly, Jon Lester was named A.L. Player of the Week for last week, sharing the honors with Detroit's Magglio Ordonez.
Lester, of course, no-hit the Kansas City Royals on May 19.
He's the third Red Sox player to be so honored this season. Ramirez won for a game in April, while Youkilis was honored for the week of May 5-11.
There could be a lot of red in the Yankee Stadium infield for the All-Star Game.
In early fan voting for the July 15 midsummer classic, Red Sox players lead the way at first base (first-time-on-the-ballot Kevin Youkilis), second base (Dustin Pedroia), designated hitter (David Ortiz), catcher (Jason Varitek) and one outfield spot (Manny Ramirez). Ortiz is the overall leader among American League vote recipients, with 556,567 votes.
The other four leaders: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.
The Milwaukee Brewers finalized a deal with Julian Tavarez, and he will be in uniform for Tuesday night's game against the Atlanta Braves.
The 35-year-old right-hander, cut loose by Boston earlier this month after going 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in nine relief appearances, worked out for the Brewers' staff in Washington on Sunday. He traveled back to Milwaukee with the team to take a physical.
The Brewers are looking to bolster a pitching staff that has been struggling with injuries and inconsistency all season.
To make room for Tavarez on the 25-man roster, Milwaukee optioned left-hander Zach Jackson to Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers will be Tavarez's ninth team. He has pitched for Cleveland, San Francisco, Colorado, the Chicago Cubs, Florida, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Boston in his 16-year career.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester and Detroit Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordoñez have been named the Bank of America Presents the American League Co-Players of the Week for the period ending Sunday, May 25, it was announced today.
On May 19, Lester became the 18th pitcher in Red Sox history to throw a no-hitter, accomplishing the feat against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed two walks and fanned nine batters, throwing 130 pitches on the night en route to both his first complete game and shutout. Overall last week, he went 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 14.0 IP. In 12 starts in 2008, Lester is 3-3 with a 3.55 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 71.0 innings. This marks his first career weekly award.
Lester is the third Red Sox player honored with the A.L.’s weekly award this season, joining Manny Ramirez (April 14-20; shared with Miguel Cabrera) and Kevin Youkilis (May 5-11).
Last week, Ordoñez hit .478 (11-23) with four doubles, three home runs and nine RBI. The 34-year-old outfielder posted a 1.043 slugging percentage along with a .500 on-base percentage. On the season, he is batting .323 with nine home runs and 35 RBI. This marks his eighth career weekly award.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Ortiz raises the Yankees' ire again
Click here to listen to Sean's daily audio report, which is audio only today. The topics include the weekend debacle in Oakland, last night's win over the free-falling Mariners, Kevin Youkilis' mysterious hand injury, and the controversy over David Ortiz's "called shot" promotion, set to take place at Yankee Stadium to the dismay of the regular tenants.
CHANGING TIMES: Used to be that managers under fire claimed they didn't read the newspapers. Now, if you're the Mariners' John McLaren, you claim you don't read the blogs. (USA Today)
PERSPECTIVE: The difference between real-life problems and what pass for problems in baseball was never demonstrated more starkly than on Sunday, when cancer survivor Jon Lester told the world that his father is also suffering from a form of lymphoma. (projo.com) He spoke optimistically about John Lester's chances of beating the disease, saying his father "will die with [cancer], not from it." Here's hoping that's true, Jon.
'MY FRIEND': Driving that point home further was the shocking death of former Red Sox and PawSox pitcher Geremi Gonzalez, who was struck by lightning in his native Venezuela on Saturday. McAdam has reaction from the Red Sox and Joe McDonald relates the comments of PawSox manager Ron Johnson, who was "absolutely crushed" by the news. Curt Schilling adds some thoughts on 38pitches.com.
'RATHER WORK WITH HIM THAN POINT A FINGER AT HIM': That's the Red Sox' philosophy regarding the defensively challenged Julio Lugo, whom they're hoping will regain his glove skills by extra work with infield coach Luis Alicea. (Boston Globe)
WHERE ARE YOU, MARINERS? The Yankees were hoping they were back on track after their weekend sweep of Seattle, but the Orioles brought them back to Earth with a 6-1 victory that featured five runs off Yankee relievers in the seventh inning. ShysterBall, noting the worrying that Joba Chamberlain's move to the rotation has sparked about who'll pitch the eighth inning for the Yanks, says forget that; what about the seventh?
THE DEBATE CONTINUES: Put down Phil Pepe as a 'no' in the Should Joba Be A Starter? poll. (yesnetwork.com)
DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES: Joe Posnanski wants to like Derek Jeter. He really does. But he's so fed up with the empty veneration of Jeter -- for instance, as a great defensive shortstop when in fact he may be the worst in baseball -- that he's come up with a new verb: "Jeterate -- to praise someone for something of which he or she is entirely unworthy of praise." And what set this off wasn't even his defense. It was his getting caught in a rundown and staying in it long enough for the other runners to advance to the next base a few nights ago, which apparently set off a five-minute Sterling/Waldman lovefest on the Yankee radio broadcast. ("He waved them to the next base! What a leader! What a man! Who else in the world could have gotten caught in a rundown long enough to get runners to move up?") And then, writes Joe, "when Hideki Matsui singled to score both runners, they took it up another step and canonized Jeter."
And so did he, with a new word. Jeterate. Write it down.
OLD FRIENDS: There's been a Pokey Reese sighting! Even though he hasn't appeared in a big-league game since 2004 and hasn't been with a big-league team since spring training 2006, the Nationals signed him to a minor-league contract. (Washington Post)
* * *
Manny Ramirez collected an RBI last night and now has 110 in his career against the Mariners, moving him into a tie for 10th place with Hall of Famer Robin Yount in that category.
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J.D. Drew, who was 2-for-3, has hit in 9 of his last 10 games against the Mariners, hitting .344 (11-for-32) in that span with six RBI. Drew has hit safely in all but 7 of his 42 games this season.
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David Ortiz move into a tie with Josh Hamilton for second-most homers in the American League. Only rookie Carlos Quentin has more in the A.L. The homer was the second in as many games for Ortiz and was the third time this year he's homered in consecutive games.
Red Sox 5, Mariners 3: Road to ruin comes to an end
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE – Desperate for a road win, the Red Sox seemingly had come to the wrong place.
Safeco Field, after all, had been an unfriendly way station for them in recent years. Before last night, the Sox had lost 9 of their last 11 here, making this an unlikely spot for the team to snap its seven-game road losing streak.
But in Bartolo Colon, making just his second start as a member of the Red Sox, Boston had the right man on the mound. Colon, who was 8-1 at Safeco during his career, limited the slumping Seattle Mariners to a single run on five hits over seven innings, directing the Sox to a 5-3 victory, their first away from Fenway since May 10.
Tied 1-1 in the eighth, six straight Red Sox hitters reached base after two were out, leading to four runs.
The loss sent the beleaguered Mariners to their 20th loss in the last 25 games.
"It was satisfying to shake hands (after a game)," said Terry Francona. "We’ve had our share of frustrating (road) losses lately."
Through seven innings, Colon and Felix Hernandez hooked up in a terrific pitcher’s duel. Hernandez, who one-hit the Sox at home in April of 2007, retired the first 10 hitters he faced before David Ortiz hammered a pitch out to straightaway center.
The lone run off Colon sixth came on a single by Ichiro Suzuki, a hit batsman, a sacrifice and a groundout.
In the eighth, the Sox had Julio Lugo on second with two out when Dustin Pedroia lined a 96-mph hour fastball over the lead of left fielder Raul Ibanez, scoring Lugo with the go-ahead run.
"I was just trying to get a fastball," Pedroia said. "I got one out over the plate and put a pretty good swing on it."
Following an intentional walk to Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, playing in his 2,000th career game, lashed a run-scoring single to right. Two more runs then crossed the plate on an infield hit by Mike Lowell and a bases-loaded walk to Jason Varitek.
"We put some good at-bats together," said Pedroia, "and we were fortunate to get some runs."
Hideki Okajima pitched a scoreless eighth and Jonathan Papelbon yielded two unearned runs in the ninth.
Still, Colon was the difference-maker. Over 84 pitches, he threw about 80 percent fastballs, mixing in his two-seam sinker for variety.
"He was much sharper (this time than last)," said Varitek of Colon. "His fastball was truer. He threw it through the zone. It’s his fastball that sets everything else up for him, especially when he has that kind of command."
Of Colon’s 84 pitches, 59 were strikes. He walked just one hitter in his seven innings while improving to 2-0.
"I felt good," said Colon. "I threw more strikes tonight and stayed ahead of the hitters. And it feels even better because we won."
Acknowledging that he threw few breaking or off-speed pitches, Colon said: "I’m going to continue to work on that."
Though he allowed just five hits, Colon was called upon several times to work out of jams.
In the third, a one-out double into the left-field corner by Kenji Johjima and a single to right from Yuniesky Betancourt gave the Mariners runners at the corners. But Colon got Ichiro to hit a shallow fly to center, then retired Jose Lopez on a groundout to second.
After Ichiro had scored the first Seattle run in the sixth, he had to contend with Lopez at third and two out. But Colon stranded him there by retiring Adrian Beltre on an inning-ending groundout.
Finally, Ichiro came to the plate with runners at the corners and two down in the seventh, but flied to center, marooning two baserunners.
The Sox, too, were frustrated in the early going, though they did succeed in making some loud outs against Hernandez.
J.D. Drew was on first with a one-out single in the fifth when Varitek drove a pitch to the deepest reaches of right-center. Ichiro turned and sprinted for the wall and made the catch over his shoulder on the warning track, a split-second before running face-first into the center-field padding.
Ichiro tumbled back to the ground, momentarily stunned by the collision, but had the presence of mind to flip the ball back into the infield to hold Drew at first.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Despite Saturday night's loss, Josh Beckett struck out nine and now has five or more strikeouts in each of his last 15 starts. That's the longest streak for a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez fanned five or more in 14 straight outings from July 1-Sept. 14, 2004.
-- Jacoby Ellsbury saw his hitting streak snapped at five with an 0-for-4 night, but made a spectacular, diving catch on Jack Hannahan for the first Oakland out of the night. The grab came one pitch after Ellsbury had chased down a foul pop-up in the Oakland bullpen, only to have the ball just squirt away from his glove. On the next pitch, Ellsbury chased after a sinking liner and, extending his glove hand, made the sprawling catch.
-- Including the two games played in Tokyo this March, the Sox are 4-10 in their last 14 road games against the A's.
A's 3, Red Sox 0: Sox on fast track to another road loss
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. – Sure, Major League Baseball would like teams to speed up the time of games. But ever since the enforcement began in earnest Friday, the Red Sox have been just a little too cooperative.
Without much of a fight, the Red Sox went down 3-0 Saturday night, one-hit by the Oakland A’s in just 2:17, the quickest game they've played this season. Justin Duchscherer, a former Red Sox prospect dealt to Texas for Doug Mirabelli seven years ago, no-hit them into the seventh inning before David Ortiz spoiled the bid with a one-out single.
That was the only hit the Sox mustered for the evening off Duchscherer (eight innings) and reliever Huston Street. Together, the A’s faced just two batters over the minimum and didn’t allow a baserunner to get into scoring position.
On Friday, the start of their 10-game road trip, the Sox also lost and did so in a hurry, with the game lasting just 2:27. Last night’s loss was Boston’s sixth in a row on the road, sandwiched around a perfect 7-0 homestand.
The setback saw the Tampa Bay Rays climb to within a half-game of the Sox in the American League East.
The game marked the second time in the last year that the Sox and A’s had been involved in a one-hitter at McAfee Coliseum. Last June, Red Sox starter Curt Schilling no-hit the A’s for the first 8 2/3 innings before Shannon Stewart spoiled the day with a single with just one out to go.
Duchscherer, who retired the first 15 hitters on the night before plunking Jason Varitek to open the sixth, didn’t get nearly that close. Still, he carried the no-hitter into the seventh.
"I tried not to think about it too much," he said. "But it’s hard not to think about when you have six no-hit innings and three to go."
Ortiz sliced a line single to right-center to thwart the no-hit effort, but didn’t advance any further. Kevin Youkilis flied to the warning track in right and Mike Lowell flied to right.
"It was a little deflating," said Duchscherer of the Ortiz single, which came with the A's holding a 1-0 lead. "But I knew the guy on base was the tying run and the guy at the plate was the winning run, so I just tried to stay focused."
"He kept us off-balance all night," Lowell said of Duchscherer. "He really didn’t miss over the middle (of the plate); he worked the corners and didn’t give in."
The one-hitter was the first tossed against the Red Sox since Seattle’s Felix Hernandez did so on April 11, 2007, beating them 3-0. Hernandez will start Monday night for the Mariners at Safeco Field in the series opener between the Sox and Seattle.
Duchscherer’s effort trumped the start made by Josh Beckett, who limited the A’s to two runs over seven innings while striking out nine.
The A’s nicked him for a run in the second on a leadoff double by Mark Sweeney, a sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice. A solo homer from Ryan Sweeney in the seventh doubled the Oakland margin, but was the only other run off Beckett.
But with no backing, Beckett was fighting a losing cause.
"It took a performance like Duchschrerer’s to beat us," said Lowell. "This was kind of a hard (loss) because Josh pitched well enough to win today."
"He was a lot better," said Beckett, now 5-4, of Duchscherer. "But somebody has to lose. We don’t have a lot of nights (where the Sox are shut down). I don’t think anybody in here has a right to complain about run support. Usually, there’s plenty of it."
Not so far on this road trip. After averaging 5.5 runs per game in their six road defeats on the last road trip, the Sox have scored just three runs in the first 18 innings of this one and are hitting a collective .117 for the two games.
Of course, credit should go to Duchscherer, too.
"He commanded every pitch he threw tonight," said Terry Francona. "I don’t remember him throwing one pitch without a purpose. He just commanded everything."
The last Oakland run came off reliever Manny Delcarmen in the eighth.
Street, meanwhile, pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save of the season.
OAKLAND -- Mike Timlin turned in his best outing in some time last night, pitching two perfect innings of relief, retiring all six hitters he faced -- two by stirkeout...Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to five consecutive games with a 2-for-4 night with two RBI. But Ellsbury was thrown out trying to steal second in the seventh inning when he over-slid the second base bag and was tagged out by Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis. It was just the second time in his career that Ellsbury had been caught stealing, but also the second time in the last five days...Frank Thomas, who had two RBI, now has 1701 for his career, one shy of Reggie Jackson for 20th place all-time.
When Major League Baseball executives said this week it was going to make every effort to speed up games, they weren't kidding, apparently.
Just ask J.D. Drew and Dave Magadan.
In the sixth inning of the Sox' 8-3 drubbing the by Oakland A's last night, Drew asked for time from home plate umpire Tim Tschida to go get some pine tar for his bat. Tschida, citing the new speed-up rules which are designed to keep players in the box and action flowing, denied him time.
From the bench, hitting coach Dave Magadan began riding Tschida for his refusal and got himself ejected.
Manager Terry Francona came out to speak to Tschida after the ejection.
``It's coming from the league,'' said Francona. ``We knew that -- we were warned.''
But the players seemed unaware of some of the specifics of the process.
``I guess it's a new rule,'' said Drew. ``You have to have (the bat) ready. That's news to everybody in this clubhouse. Nobody knew about it.''
``It's kind of a ridiculous rule,'' said Dustin Pedroia. ``I don't know who invented it, but we've got to clear it up.''
OAKLAND, Calif. – Leaving the comforts of home for the rigors of the road, the Red Sox got an entirely predictable result last night.
While the Sox have been almost unbeatable at Fenway Park, sweeping their recent seven-game homestand and posting a 21-5 mark at home this season, the road has not been nearly so kind.
Opening a 10-game trek last night, the Sox stumbled badly, thumped by the Oakland A’s, 8-3, for their fifth straight road loss and seventh setback in the last nine tries away from home.
``We don’t think about it,’’ said second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who had a solo homer in the fourth. ``I know playing at home is a big advantage with our fans. I don’t know. We’ve got nine more games on this trip. We’ll figure it out.’’
It may be easier, in the short run, if the Red Sox can find a way to get Frank Thomas out. Thomas had three hits – including a homer – and two RBI last night. Including a series while he was with the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this season, Thomas is 7-for-16 against the Red Sox this year with three homers and 10 RBI in just four games.
``He’s had some production against us (this season),’’ acknowledged Terry Francona. ``That’s putting it lightly.’’
Thomas’s first inning two-run shot off Tim Wakefield was his seventh homer off the knuckleballer in 51 career at-bats. He later added two singles.
Wakefield managed to limp into the sixth and save some of the bullpen, but was ineffective from the beginning. After giving up three runs in the first – two on the shot by Thomas – he was banged for four more runs in the third, three of which scored on a homer by Mark Ellis.
Kevin Cash, Wakefield’s designated catcher, sensed it might be a long night from the first inning.
``When he really has (the knuckler) going,’’ said Cash, ``you see kind of a late reaction from me. It has that good late movement to it. But tonight, he left some up.’’
``I battled as hard and as long as I could,’’ said Wakefield, who is winless in his last three starts and has only one victory in his last six outings. ``My mechanics are a little off right now. I wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked.’’
Opposing hitters have belted five homers off Wakefield in his last three starts. In two of those three starts, he’s fallen behind by big margins early, trailing 7-0 by the third inning.
Put in deep hole, the Sox were battling uphill against Oakland starter Rich Harden. Thanks to a shoulder injury, Harden was making only his sixth start of the season last night, but three of them have against the Red Sox, including two in the first three games of the season.
In those three games, Harden is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA. In 17 innings, he’s allowed 11 hits while striking out 23, including eight last night in six innings.
Labeling Harden’s stuff as on par with anyone in the American League and noting the bad timing the Sox have endured, Francona cracked: ``I hope they’re not going to pitch him Sunday (in the series finale).’’
Harden retired the first 10 hitters he faced before Pedroia nicked him with a one-out solo shot to left in the fourth.
A leadoff double from J.D. Drew in the fifth and a two-out single from Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth accounted for the second run and only other run Harden yielded.
``He had a good fastball, a good slider and he located well,’’ said Drew of Harden. ``He kept us off-balance.’’
. The Sox used two singles and an infield throwing error for the their final run, off the Oakland bullpen, in the seventh.
BY SEAN McADAM
and JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writers
Julian Tavarez, who only a few days ago elected to accept an assignment to Triple A Pawtucket, has had a change of heart and has instead elected free agency.
Tavarez, who was designated for assignment earlier this month, cleared waivers earlier this week and, as a vested veteran, had the option of becoming a free agent or being assigned to Pawtucket. Either way, the Red Sox were responsible for his entire $3.75 million salary for this season.
Tavarez initially accepted the assignment, with the hope that he could be recalled by the Sox during the course of the season. The Red Sox had informed Tavarez that, even if he accepted the minor-league assignment, they wouldn't stand in the way if a team expressed an interest in him for a major-league spot.
He was expected to report to McCoy Thursday, but called and told the team that he had changed his mind and would become a free agent.
If he signs elsewhere, the Red Sox would get a small bit of salary relief, saving about $130,000, or the pro-rated share of the major league minimum.
Among the teams that had indicated an interest in either dealing for him or claiming him on waivers were Colorado, Milwaukee and Baltimore.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning as Sean was just getting his day started in California. The topics: the Red Sox' remarkable 7-0 homestand, the rarity of two grand slams in one game, Daisuke Matsuzaka's latest walk-a-rama, and the Red Sox' next two opponents: Oakland and Seattle.
HOME WARRIORS: We'll remember this for a while. A no-hitter. Another impressive start by a rookie hopeful. A just-as-impressive beginning from a veteran being counted on to bolster the rotation. And yesterday, two grand slams in one day, one of them from Mike Lowell (above). Yes, this series -- and this homestand -- was one for the memory books.
What may fade over time are the details, which is just as well because, as Joe McDonald reports, yesterday's 11-8 dispatch of the Royals -- which completed a four-game sweep of Kansas City on the heels of a three-game wipeout of the Brewers -- was hardly a thing of beauty. And the wart of the edge of the nose was, once again, Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose sterling 8-0, 2.40 record (Projo Stats) gives no hint to the agonizing manner in which he got there. Steven Krasner examines yesterday's 5 2/3-inning, six-walk, six-hit, two-wild-pitch 118-pitch torture session, which seemed to wear down even the eternally upbeat Terry Francona, based on comments he made during his postgame session with the media. Kraz reports Dice-K had a built-in excuse this time: It was his first game with Kevin Cash, who handled the catching chores as Jason Varitek was given the day off. (And, indeed, that fifth-inning exchange where Matsuzaka shook off Cash, what, 71 times as grass began growing through cracks in the grandstand cement speaks to that unfamiliarity.) Whatever the reason, Matsuzaka himself was less than pleased with the whole thing (Boston Globe), though pitching coach John Farrell was more upbeat about it. (Boston Herald) Still, there's no arguing with the results: 11th Red Sox pitcher since 1956 to begin 8-0; Sox victories in each of his last 12 regular-season starts, dating back to Sept. 22, 2007; first eight-game winner in the American League. Could be worse. A lot worse.
NO, IT'S NOT ALWAYS LIKE THIS: I'm sure many of us know someone who attended both Buchholz' and Jon Lester's no-hitters. Edes found a guy who not only went to both of them, but they were the only two times he's ever been to Fenway. Not only that, he's from Utah. In addition, Gordon reports that -- unlike the reward Tom Yawkey gave to Mel Parnell for his 1956 no-hitter -- John Henry had no bonus for Lester, and he answers a question I get all the time: What's the difference in salary between the major leagues and minor leagues? He gives us Masterson's numbers.
FINITO: It appears Kevin Youkilis' days as a blogger are over.
WE'RE NOT ALONE: Annoyed by the at-times-subterranean level of intelligence displayed by sports talk-show callers? Apparently they're no smarter in Canada, as our pal The Tao of Stieb tells us. Because, yeah, Ernie Whitt's time as first-base coach makes him the obvious choice to replace J.P. Ricciardi as Blue Jays general manager.
(Watch out, Theo. You're in Luis Alicea's cross hairs!)
MY DAY'S COMING: Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Bert Blyleven's candidacy has been a hot topic for some time now. But in an interesting -- and sometimes hilarious -- interview with Big League Stew, he says he thinks he'll make it.
MINE'S NOT, IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT: Marvin Miller, on the other hand, wants no part of being in the Hall of Fame because of "the voting mechanism and what he feels are conflicts of interest that stack the deck against any labor executive who spent a career battling management." (New York Times)
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches to the Kansas City Royals this afternoon at Fenway Park. Matsuzaka left the game with two outs and one on in the sixth inning. He had a 5-3 lead, thanks largely to J.D. Drew's grand-slam home run, but he walked six batters to take the American League lead in walks allowed (he has 38 on the season, three more than Fausto Carmona and Jeremy Bonderman). But if the score holds, Matsuzaka's record will go to 8-0, and he would be in sole possession of the American League lead in wins.
The current weather forecast (provided by the Red Sox private weather service, Meteorlogix) in the vicinity of Fenway Park calls for a possibility of scattered rain showers during the afternoon hours.
The Fenway Park gates will open at the regularly scheduled time of 11:35 a.m., and the Red Sox expect that today’s game with the Kansas City Royals will be played. However, the Red Sox want to alert our fans to the current forecast.
This forecast is of course subject to change as the day progresses. Additional updates will be provided as necessary.
Interestingly, Jason Varitek has been given today off. The explanation from manager Terry Francona seems reasonable, saying today’s day game after a night game, along with the cross country travel to Oakland later today has something to do with it. Plus, Tim Wakefield is pitching Friday, so this will give The Captain two days off.
“I fight this one because Wake is pitching tomorrow,” said the manager. “But he’s been catching a lot and we’re flying to the coast. We won’t start him and let Cash catch, and we feel good about that. In the next two days if we have to use Jason off the bench then I’m a little more comfortable doing that. He’s not really crazy about the two days in a row, but I think sometimes I just think you need to step in and do what’s right. We don’t want to wear him down.”
In the last six games Varitek has been on an offensive tear. He’s had multi-hit games in five of the last six games, raising his average from .255 to .295. In that stretch he’s posted 3 homers, 3 doubles and 4 RBI.
Francona said this morning he's been thinking about giving Tek the two days off for a while.
"Unless Jason would have fought me on this, I knew what I wanted to do," said the manager.
Backup catcher Kevin Cash has been swinging the bat very well, so that made Francona's decision a little easier.
Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz will make a rehab start for the PawSox at McCoy Stadium on Sunday. The right-hander, who has been on the DL since May 15 with a torn fingernail on his throwing hand, will work four innings or 65 pitches against Rochester.
He injured his hand during his last start in Minnesota on June 12. He went 3-4 days without throwing a baseball, according to manager Terry Francona.
Buchholz will be evaluated again on Monday before a decision is made. The Red Sox don't want to rush him. Plus, with Bartolo Colon making an impressive debut with the club on Wednesday night, when Buchholz does come off the DL, it's quite possible he could be sent to Pawtucket.
Francona said he was also very impressed with the way Buchholz handled the situation during his last start against the Twins. Even though he was struggling, he never told the manager of his injured finger until after the game.
"He didn't show us his nail," said Francona. "And, it didn't look like he was gripping the ball any different. To his credit, he didn't show it. It's not like he came out of the game holding his hand. He sucked it up and just pitched. He didn't pitch real well, but he took it and tried to give us as many innings as he could. It's a hard thing not to admire."
David Ortiz is getting in a little extra throwing this morning.
The Sox designated hitter is throwing batting practice on the field -- to his son, D'Angelo, who will turn four in July.
Ortiz is tossing the plastic balls in overhand from about 20-25 feet. Unlike his dad, D'Angelo is a right-handed hitter, and he also throws right-handed. He has a fierce upper-cut swing and isn't getting cheated on his hacks.
D'Angelo has made solid contact a few times, and when he does, he drops the bat and circles imaginary bases in the infield between the pitcher's mound and home plate area.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. The topics: Bartolo Colon, maybe the deal of the year (we'll see); Jason Varitek's hot hitting; Brandon Moss returning to the PawSox after an emergency appendectomy; and your American League All-Star starting pitcher -- Daisuke Matsuzaka?
LOOKING GOOD: Granted, these are the flea-swinging Royals, so you probably should take it all with a grain of salt. But Bartolo Colon won his Red Sox debut last night (details provided by Joe McDonald), and there's more to it than that. Steven Krasner says Colon was better than his pitching line of 5 innings, 6 hits and 2 runs; he goes Inside The Game to break down Colon's performance and notes that every one of Kansas City's six hits was either a blooper, a bunt or a seeing-eye grounder. It's part of a pitching upswing that's explained by McDonald, Krasner and Paul Kenyon in their notebook, which also includes items on J.D. Drew, Manny Ramirez, Brad Mills as third-base coach, a suddenly rejuvenated bullpen, and more.
Before ordering the champagne and balloons, however, listen to Kraz:
"The Royals entered last night’s game 14th — dead last — in runs scored this year. They were 12th in slugging percentage and 12th in on-base percentage, and Kansas City had been shut out 12 times, the league’s second-highest total of whitewashes. The Royals also were 14th in home runs, 13th in total bases, 14th in RBI, 13th in walks and 7th in strikeouts . . . Just consider this information a dose of perspective."
ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL: Kenyon catches up with Brandon Moss, who's recovered from his emergency appendectomy and is headed to Pawtucket to begin playing again.
ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION, BOB? I have this friend who probably wouldn't qualify as the world's biggest Jason Varitek fan. So I strongly urge him to click this link, where Baseball Musings' David Pinto talks of 'Tek's offensive "renaissance".
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: In light of Jon Lester's no-hitter, Justin Masterson's two strong starts and Jacoby Ellsbury's overall play, Sportingnews.com's Sean Devaney says Twins GM Bill Smith "badly misplayed his hand by not jumping at" one of the two trade offers the Red Sox made for Johan Santana.
HANGING UP THE PEN: At the bottom of an examination as to whether or not Mike Piazza was the greatest everyday player in Mets history, Joe Posnanski has a tidbit about Carl Yastrzemski, newspaper columnist. And that's all I'm giving you; if you want more, click the link.
SAVING GRACE: Writing for Sportingnews.com, Pinto explains why the Royals' signing of closer Joakim Soria to a long-term deal was a good move.
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET, MORE POWERFUL THAN A LOCOMOTIVE . . . and able to leap the A.L. East standings in a single bound. Sports Illustrated (above) has taken notice of the Tampa Bay Rays. And who wouldn't notice Carl Crawford tossing Derek Jeter like a rag doll, I ask?
MUST-SEE TV: Earl Weaver's long-ago tirade against Terry Crowley -- "He's lucky he's in (bleeping) baseball" -- was recorded on tape by someone and has been kicking around the Internet for years. Last night, somehow, someway, it actually got on the air during the YES broadcast of the Yankees-Orioles game. The blog NYY Stadium Insider has the video clip. [Warning: They didn't bleep it out, so keep your speakers down if there's someone you don't want to hear it.]
THAT'S THREE IN FOUR DAYS . . . AND COUNTING: The umpires did it again last night -- and did it again at Yankee Stadium -- as they blew yet another home-run call, this time on Alex Rodriguez. (New York Times) After this, their nationally televised blunder on Carlos Delgado Sunday night and their less-publicized miss of the Cubs' Geovany Soto's home run Monday night in Houston, expect the instant-replay train to start chugging down the track.
FROM EXPLANATION TO APOLOGY: Willie Randolph took that step yesterday as he said he was sorry "for his remarks on race and his feud with the Mets' TV network." (New York Post)
THE MODEL TO EMULATE: Miami fans can take a lesson from those in Houston, where the Chronicle's Jose de Jesus Ortiz says Astros fans rock. And he explains why.
MAKE YOUR CASE The Cleveland blog WaitingForNextYear . . . when maybe someone other than Boston will kill our title dreams -- it's an all-sports blog, so the Celtics' dispatch of the Cavaliers ranks up there with the Red Sox' ousting of the Indians -- has asked fellow A.L. Central bloggers to explain why their team will win the division. First up: Detroit, on the Mack Avenue Tigers blog.
The first impressions Bartolo Colon made on his pitching coach and his catcher were positive last night. Here is what John Farrell, the Red Sox pitching coach, and catcher Jason Varitek had to say about Colon’s effort in the 6-3 Red Sox win.
``We came in tonight thinking he was going to go about 75 pitches. It was apparent that in the fifth inning it looked like he was starting to tire a little bit.’’ Colon threw 74 pitches, 46 for strikes.
``What was most impressive is that we used his fastball very well tonight. The two-seamer got a lot of ground balls with some early contact. I think it was a very good step in the right direction for Bartolo. We’re looking at him for 85 or 90 pitches the next time out.’’
Of the 74 pitches, only about 10 were off-speed, Farrell said.
``When you can throw the two and four-seam on both sides of the plate to some effect it gives you four different pitches. Tonight his approach was very similar to what he’s been accustomed to his entire career. He’s going to mix in some change-ups and sliders on occasion but he’s primarily a fastball pitcher.’’
``One thing he’s never had an issue with is throwing strikes. You look at his entire career path and it’s been one that he’s commanded the strike zone Even when he came into spring training he showed right away that his delivery was repeatable. When you look at a compact body like that there are not body parts that are going to get out of whack too often. Because of that regardless of the amount of time off he’s going to be pretty efficient with his strike throwing ability.’’
Even with Boston’s pitching riches, Farrell made it clear he expects Colon to be part of the rotation.
``He’s a very accomplished pitcher. We’re fortunate to have him in the rotation,’’ Farrell said.
``He did good. He did really good,’’ Varitek said.
``We saw some 94s (on the radar gun) up there. You’ve got to remember it’s his first outing. We’re still building strength. We can make this a good starting point for building strength. . . He’s going to help us.’’
Varitek felt Colon’s numbers could have been even better.
``They had a soft liner for the first run hit in the right place for the first run and he broke a bat on the other one.’’
The fight for jobs with the Boston Red Sox is about to become a major benefit for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
When Terry Francona held his usual pre-game meeting with the media this afternoon, three of the players he talked about are not on his team right now. Brandon Moss, Justin Masterson and Julian Tavarez all are expected to be with the PawSox when red-hot Pawtucket (winners of 10 of its last 13) opens an eight-game homestand tomorrow night against Rochester.
Here’s what is up with them:
The rookie outfielder/first baseman is in Fenway today. Some 18 days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, he is on the field as the Sox take batting practice. He will receive one final check from doctors tonight before heading to Pawtucket.
``He’s made some kind of recovery,’’ Francona said. ``It’s pretty cool. He’s all jumping around.’’
``I feel great,’’ Moss said before heading out.
Moss had 15 at-bats over the weekend in Florida and played two games at first base and one in the outfield.
On May 2, Moss hit a home run and threw a runner out at the plate as the Sox beat Tampa Bay. The next night he was undergoing surgery.
``At first I didn’t think (the recovery) was going to be as quick as it was, because it was really sore the first two or three days,’’ he recalled. ``Then, they told me the more I did, with moderation, the better it would get and the quicker it would get better.
``I started doing things. Even though it hurt, I kept doing it and it got better a lot faster. The progression was really good.’’
With Boston healthier than it has been in some time, Moss is not even sure what will happen after his rehab in Pawtucket.
``I don’t know what they’re going to do,’’ he said. ``I might stay there. I don’t even know. Whatever happens happens. I’m just glad to be able to play again.’’
Francona spoke about the possibility of the young righthander pitching in relief in Boston later this season. For now, though, it appears all but certain Masterson will be in Pawtucket’s starting rotation for the time being.
``Yeah, he could probably help us in the pen,’’ Francona responded to a question about using Masterson in relief. ``I think the starters’ innings are really, really beneficial (right now). Where that takes him the rest of the year, I don’t know.’’
Masterson pitched the Sox to victory over Kansas City Tuesday night, then was told that rather than going back to Portland, he was being assigned to Pawtucket. It is expected he will start for the PawSox Sunday or Monday.
The veteran reliever cleared waivers and has accepted assignment to Pawtucket. It is not sure how long that will last or even what role he will fill for the PawSox.
When Francona was asked about the situation, he said he was not aware of what would be done, that it would be an organizational decision.
``If I said something I’d be making it up. I’d rather not do that,’’ he said. But he did make a prediction when asked if he was surprised Tavarez had cleared waivers.
``You know what, I never try to manage another team, let alone be a general manager,’’ Francona said. ``I think I feel better saying he is going to pitch in the big leagues. He’ll be in the big leagues (before the season is over).’’
**Bartolo Colon will finally make his Red Sox debut tonight. Ever since the club signed the veteran right-hander at the start of spring training, GM Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona have been looking forward to this.
"He's done everything we have asked," said Francona. "His arm looks terrific. He's logged a lot of innings. He's pitching his first game on May 21 and sometimes you need to catch a break, and maybe this will be our break. Everybody is looking for something and pitching is hard to find. This guys seems excited to be here and we're excited to have him here."
**Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew is out of the starting lineup tonight. He smoked a foul ball off his knee during Tuesday's game against the Royals, but manager Terry Francona said this afternoon Drew still could have played tonight. Due to Thursday's matinee game, the manager thought it best to give Drew a rest tonight.
Plus, Francona said he's really happy with the way the outfielder rotation of Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Manny Ramirez and Coco Crisp has worked this season.
**Speaking of Manny, he's stuck on home run No. 498, but Francona doesn't feel like the slugger is pressing. The manager joked that he would rather have Manny at 498 instead of 14 (Francona hit 16 career homers during his playing days).
"He's not pressing, but his timing has been off a bit," said the manager. "On some of his swings you can tell he doesn't have all of his balance or leveragem, but that will change."
**Red Sox third-base coach DeMarlo Hale could rejoin the club in Oakland this weekend. He is back in Orlando, Fla. to attend to his wife, who is undergoing undisclosed medical exams. Francona said Hale has the club's blessing to take as long as he needs. In the meantime, bench coach Brad Mills has been filling in at third.
Manny Ramirez has now gone 29 at-bats since his last home run, and he has just two home runs in the last month of baseball. Since April 22, he's seen his batting average fall 50 points, from .342 to .292, and he's struck out 24 times in 25 games. All this has some folks wondering: Is the pressure getting to Manny? (Click the link here to vote.)
"He doesn't look the least bit settled in the batter's box," Krasner writes. "He's jumping at pitches and when he hits them, he isn't consistently driving them. He's even uncharacteristically chasing pitches out of the strike zone."
No question Ramirez was doing that last night against Kansas City, when he was a strikout victim three times.
Here's what Sean McAdam had to say on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk: "He had made a big deal about wanting to get there [500 home runs] before the end of April, which seems a long time ago now, and seemed to be cognizant about that and wanting to get this done and get this taken care of. How many times do you see Manny Ramirez strike out three times in four at-bats in one night and not look very good doing it either? So, it could be that he's pressing. He's been stuck in the high 490s for quite some time now, and I'm sure he looks out there and sees that number 498 hanging above the Green Monster; he certainly knows that the milestone is within reach, and it does seem like of late that he's been trying a little too hard to get there."
Interesting, the same was said last year of Alex Rodriguez as he neared number 500.
Perhaps Manny won't get number 500 at Fenway, but instead that he'll do it when the Red Sox head out for the West Coast later that week. I can't find the Lynn Item column that Nick Cafardo mentions today in the Globe's Extra Bases blog, so I'll link to Cafardo himself. Ramirez told the Item's Maureen Mullen over the weekend, according to Cafardo, that he in fact is not excited about reaching 500, that 600 is really his goal, and he predicts that number 500 will come out West.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Another young star shines
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. The topics: Justin Masterson -- his performance last night and his possible future in the bullpen -- what to look for from Bartolo Colon tonight, and whether Manny Ramirez is letting his stalled pursuit of 500 home runs get under his skin.
WEALTH OF RICHES: Justin Masterson (above) knew the pressure was on when, in the aftermath of Jon Lester's no-hitter Monday night, a TV announcer remarked, "Justin, have fun following this one up." But the emergency starter -- while not exactly matching Lester's performance of the night before -- pitched just as well as he had in his first one-and-done appearance last month (ProJo Sox Blog) . . . and this time he was rewarded for it, as the Red Sox defeated the Royals, 2-1, for their fifth straight win. Joe McDonald has the details of the victory, which Jonathan Papelbon nailed down by striking out three of the four batters he faced; the biggest one, of course, was the fanning of Billy Butler with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth as he cleaned up yet another mess created by Hideki Okajima. Terry Francona insisted Okajima (double and two walks in two-thirds of an inning) "did OK" (Boston Herald) and the Sox are willing to blame rustiness -- he hadn't pitched in almost a week because of a sore wrist -- for his troubles. Maybe so, but the Sox are still worried about their less-than-airtight relief corps, which last night included an inherited runner allowed to score by the similarly wobbly Manny Delcarmen. So worried, in fact, that Sean McAdam reports the Sox may turn Masterson into a reliever later this year in the hopes he can fortify the bullpen in the same way Papelbon did in 2005.
THE REAL SURVIVORS: The Red Sox have four current and former players -- Jon Lester, Mike Lowell, Mark Loretta and Derek Lowe -- on Yahoo! Sports' All-Cancer Survivor Team.
SHORT-TERM FIX? Tonight, Bartolo Colon makes his Sox debut as Masterson heads back out (though this time to Pawtucket and not Portland). In his weekly ESPN radio broadcast, transcribed by Joe Haggerty on his Hacks With Haggs blog, Peter Gammons says the Sox may only get five or six good starts out of Colon before he begins to break down but that may be all they're looking for.
SURPRISE! In their notebook, McDonald, McAdam and Krasner also note the decision of Julian Tavarez to reject free agency and accept an assignment to Pawtucket. The state of pitching being what it is around baseball, it was thought Tavarez could have snapped up a job in an instant on the open market; instead, he decided to stay put. The Rockies were thought to be a potential landing spot for Tavarez, but the Denver Post reports that -- while they still might have taken a chance if he'd reached free agency -- their interest cooled when they signed Glendon Rusch.
NOTHING'S CHANGED: Coco Crisp sill wants to play every day and is waiting for the Sox to make good on their promise to trade him. (Boston Herald)
GETTING BETTER: Journal food critic Gail Ciampa says this year's batch of Red Sox wines -- Captain’s Cabernet (named for Jason Varitek), Vintage Papi (who do you think?), and Sauvignyoouuk Blanc (Kevin Youkilis) -- are "an improvement over last year’s inaugural selections."
STARTING WITH . . . Perhaps the biggest leak is on that big bump in the middle of the diamond, especially with the first guys the Yankees put out there every night. Last night the first guy was Mike Mussina, but he didn't get out of the first inning, departing after getting only two outs and putting the Yanks in a 7-0 hole. (New York Daily News)
'AT LEAST THE YANKEES LEAD THE LEAGUE IN SOMETHING': That something, points out Peter Abraham on the LoHud Yankees Blog, is suspensions, especially since another one may be in the offing after LaTroy Hawkins threw twice at the Orioles' Luke Scott -- the last time at his head -- in apparent retaliation for Derek Jeter being hit on the wrist a few innings earlier by Daniel Cabrera. (Both stories New York Post) The Orioles had no use for Hawkins throwing high at Scott (Baltimore Sun), especially since, as Abraham points out, Jeter a) dives over the plate on every pitch, b) has been hit 132 times in his career and c) if "the Yankees retaliate every time Jeter gets hit, they’re going to run out of pitchers." Hawkins will soon join Melky Cabrera, Shelley Duncan and Kyle Farnsworth as Yankee players who have been suspended this season . . . and Farnsworth also was nailed for throwing at an opposing batter's head.
What's that you were saying there, Goose Gossage, about Yankee class and dignity?
THOSE WHO FORGET THE PAST ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT: With a ton of money coming off the books at the end of the year -- among the bloated contracts that expire are Mussina's, Jason Giambi's and Bobby Abreau's -- the Yankees are expected to make a big splash in the free-agent market this winter as they prepare to head into the new Yankee Stadium. But the blog River Ave. Blues points out that handing, say, Mark Teixeira the seven-year (or longer) contract he'll undoubtedly be seeking means you'll soon be facing the same problem with him that you have with the Giambis now; to wit, paying a ton of money for a player whose skills are deteriorating.
COMING OUT SWINGING: Jim Leyland told Bob Nightengale of USA Today this has been the most exasperating of his 17 seasons as a big-league manager, and that exasperation apparently grew when ex-Tiger Jason Grilli said some of the team's offseason moves -- such as the jettisoning of Sean Casey -- "broke up our team chemistry". Leyland fired back at Grilli's seemingly innocuous remarks, basically telling him to mind his own business and worry about himself. (Detroit Free Press) "You’ve got to be (kidding) me," said Leyland. "We lost Sean Casey. I mean, please. Come on . . . I miss Sean Casey. But Sean Casey has nothing to do with the fact that the Tigers are where we’re at.”
THE (ABUSE OF) POWER OF THE INTERNET: You may have heard there was a blog report Monday that the Brewers were about to fire Ned Yost. I didn't link to it because there were about 84 smell tests it didn't pass -- at its worst, you could assume it was just a guy throwing something out there with no attribution whatsoever -- but some media outlets either reported it or attempted to follow up on it. Well, it wasn't true (duh!), and a furious Yost has some harsh words for the organizations that did repeat the rumor. (mlb.com)
DAMN STRAIGHT: Braves announcer Skip Carey chimes in on bloggers during a game broadcast. (www.cantstopthebleeding.com)
INSTANT REPLAY: One night after they blew a home-run call on national television on a ball hit by Carlos Delgado at Yankee Stadium, major-league umpires did it again on a smaller stage Monday night, making an incorrect call on a home run by the Cubs' Geovany Soto in Houston. The New York Times reports MLB is working on a limited instant-replay proposal that may gain the approval of long-time replay opponent Bud Selig.
BOSTON -- Julian Tavarez has cleared waivers and accepted his minor-league assignment. The right-handed reliever will join the PawSox at some point in the next couple of days. He was designated for assignment on May 12.
Some teams showed interest in the versatile pitcher, but did not grab him. The Red Sox are still responsible for Tavarez's contract, which he's still owed about $2.8 million for the rest of the season.
In another roster move, the Red Sox optioned reliever Chris Smith back to Pawtucket.
BOSTON -- Jon Lester has received a ton of e-mails, phone calls and text messages to congratulate him on his no-hitter against the Royals Monday night at Fenway Park.
Through it all, the Red Sox’ left-hander still hasn’t had time to relax and let his accomplishments sink in.
"Not yet," he said Tuesday afternoon. "It’s probably one of those things that I’ll get to enjoy a little bit later on."
Lester spent most of the day talking to his parents and actually got to say hello to fellow cancer survivor Lance Armstrong during an ESPN SportsCenter standup from Fenway Park early Tuesday afternoon.
After he met with the local media, following Monday’s heroics, he said he would be interested to see how he felt this morning due to the fact he tossed a career-high 130 pitches during his no-no.
"Physically I’m tired from not sleeping,'' he said. "Right now it’s just kind of the normal soreness and it’ll be nice because we get an extra day with the way the rotation is set up. I don’t have to do anything today and I’ll get back to my normal routine (on Wednesday)."
BOSTON -- Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has now caught more no-hitters (four) than any other catcher in baseball history, and manager Terry Francona doesn't it's no accident.
"I don't think that part is a fluke," said Francona. "When pitchers buy into 'Tek, they're going to be better."
As an example, Francona cited Josh Beckett, who often clashed with Varitek over pitch selection in his first season in Boston. When Beckett became less stubborn and let his catcher call more of the game, he enjoyed his first 20-win season last year.
* * * *
Francona has been substituting Alex Cora for shortstop Julio Lugo late in games recently, including four times in the last five games.
That's partly out of concern for Lugo after suffering a mild concussion in Minnesota and partly because Lugo has been in a fielding slump, committing four errors in the last five games.
"Cora's pretty good," pointed out Francona. "Now that we're 50 games or so into the season, I wouldn't be doing my job correctly if I didn't do (things to help us win). Having our best defensive team out there is an obligation."
Francona said he has spoken with Lugo about the substitutions and values the open communication.
"If you're doing the right thing,'' he said, "but you don't get the player to understand it, that it's not the right thing."
* * * * Curt Schilling's throwing program continues, with the veteran pitcher stretched out to a distance of 100 feet recently.
BOSTON -- The cleats that Jon Lester wore during his no-hit effort on Monday night will be heading for display at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
They won't be the only mementos from the special night that will be on the way to the Hall, though.
The no-hitter was the fourth caught by Jason Varitek, an all-time record. Several catchers had been behind the plate for three no-hitters, but Varitek has caught the gems tossed by Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, Clay Buchholz and now Lester.
Varitek will be sending the entire set of catching gear he wore Monday night for display in the Hall.
The Red Sox bullpen is in right-center, far away from from what Jon Lester was doing on the mound Monday night against the Royals.
The relievers, though, were well aware that Lester was working on a no-hitter. Manny Delcarmen noticed in the sixth inning.
They weren't terribly superstitious in the bullpen as the outs kept piling up. But they didn't want to mention the term "no-hitter" for fear of jinxking it.
"We were trying not to think about it," said Delcarmen this afternoon. "We were talking about other things, anything else."
When Lester fanned Alberto Callaspos for the final out of the ninth, finishing off his gem, Delcarmen led the charge from the bullpen to the infield in front of home plate to take part in the celebration.
"Running in to congratulate him was the fastest sprint of the year for me," said Delcarmen.
Delcarmen, who played with Lester at various minor-league stops, was thrilled for his teammate, especially given the serious health issues that threatened Lester's life, never mind his baseball career, only about 18 months ago.
"I'm so happy for him," said Delcarmen. "He's been through so much. And here he's been in the World Series (the winner in the decisive Game Four against Colorado) and now this. He keeps getting milestones and hopefully there will be more to come. It's pretty cool."
The current weather forecast (provided by the Red Sox private weather service, Meteorlogix) in the vicinity of Fenway Park calls for the possibility of light rain showers during the late afternoon and evening hours.
The Fenway Park gates will open at the regularly scheduled time of 5:05 p.m., and the Red Sox expect that tonight’s 7:05 p.m. game with the Kansas City Royals will be played. However, the Red Sox would like to alert our fans to the current forecast.
This forecast is of course subject to change as the day progresses. Additional updates will be provided as necessary.
Charlie Zink gave up two unearned runs and one hit in six innings of work, while Jonathan Van Every and Chris Carter hit home runs today as the Pawtucket Red Sox beat the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, 3-2, to complete their four-game series in Pennsylvania. Former New York Yankee Jeff Karstens took the loss.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Lester writes Red Sox history
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's edition is all about Jon Lester's no-hitter, including a review of the many memorable starts in Lester's career so far, how the Sox might try to manage Lester's workload after he threwing so many pitches last night, and how much impact Jason Varitek has had on the Sox' remarkable wealth of no-nos.
NO NO? The pitcher was Jon Lester, the opponent was the Kansas City Royals, the site was Fenway Park . . .
Journal photos / Bob Breidenbach
YES YES! . . . and the result was the fourth Red Sox no-hitter in the last eight seasons, and the second in 8 1/2 months. (ProJo Sox Blog) It's funny; I came in from walking the dog as the Royals were batting in the sixth inning and I knew right away -- just by the tone of Don Orsillo's voice and the phraseology he was using -- that Lester had a no-hitter. (I'd left the house in the second, and knew from cell-phone updates that the Sox were ahead 5-0.) We all have our superstitions during no-hitters -- the Boston Globe found out what some of the fans' were -- and so, while my wife rocked anxiously and kept saying things like, "This is so nerve-wracking!", I was careful, like Orsillo, not to comment on what we were watching. Even when I was conducting business, such as when I talked on the phone to Sean McAdam in the press box in the bottom of the seventh, I didn't say what I thought was going to happen.
Because what I thought was: This is in the bag.
I really did. Sean has an excellent piece on the future of the Red Sox' young pitchers -- it's pretty rare when two members of your starting rotation, and the two youngest members to boot, both have no-hitters -- in which he talked extensively with Theo Epstein, and I was intuitively impressed, even just by watching from the sixth inning on, with what Epstein articulated: "Stuff-wise, [Lester] was very special. I was more excited about the stuff than the result. For the first time since 2005, he had that good velocity, up in the zone."
Obviously, no no-hitter is guaranteed -- it was just as likely that he'd make a bad pitch, or someone would bloop something somewhere, or even that someone would just put a good at-bat on him and hit a pitcher's pitch into the gap -- but I was pretty confident he'd finish it off. And he did. Kenyon provides the game details.
I REMEMBER MEL: If you're of a certain age, you remember Mel Parnell as the ace left-hander of the '40s and '50s Red Sox. If you're of another age, like me, you remember him as the likeable (if quiet) color commentator on the '60s radio and TV broadcasts. (You may have heard his inelegant call of the final out of 1967's season-ending win over the Twins: "Little soft pop up, Petrocelli will take it, HE DOES! The ballgame's over!" It paled in comparison to Ned Martin's "And there's pandemonium on the field!" declaration on radio.) If your memory doesn't stretch back any father than the '70s, you probably don't remember him at all. But, as Baseball Musings' David Pinto notes, Parnell was the last Red Sox left-hander to pitch a no-hitter prior to Lester . . . and that was back in 1956.
PUT IT ASIDE FOR A NIGHT: On the LoHud Yankees Blog, Peter Abraham -- who notes that we've all been touched by cancer, either personally or through a friend or family member -- says everyone, "even if [the cap you're wearing] has an interlocking N and Y on it," should cheer Lester. "Sometimes it’s OK to root for the other team," he concludes. Most of the commenters agreed, though some -- while not wishing Lester ill -- said they couldn't root for a Red Sox pitcher to throw a no-hitter no matter what the circumstances. But poster "seriously" has perhaps the best take of all: "Robinson Cano had 18 [no-hit] games this season, Lester only one. Don’t worry,we’re still the winner."
VIDEO ENTRIES: Already, amateur videos of the final out are popping up on YouTube. This videographer had wonderful seats just to the right of home plate:
While this one was in Conigliaro's Corner on the right-field roof:
And this one -- who had terrific fan reaction immediately after the last out -- was in the upper boxes on the third-base side:
Quite a night.
THE FLIP SIDE OF THE COIN: Rany Jazayerli, the remaining half of Rob and Rany On The Royals (it's now, of course, Rany On The Royals), wasn't quite as thrilled as we were up here, though he says if the Royals had to be no-hit by anybody, he's glad it was by cancer survivor Jon Lester. Blogger Mark Laflamme, a Royals fan who lives in New England, describes it as hurting as much as "a bicycle crossbar to the crotch." Ouch. In the mainstream media, Joe Posnanski -- saying "[there] are not many places in the world that are quieter than the losing clubhouse after a no-hitter" -- gets the post-mortems from the no-hitees. (Kansas City Star)
'HE'S PLAYING THE HAND HE'S BEEN DEALT': Hank Steinbrenner had praise for the card-player (Joe Girardi) but not for the dealer (Brian Cashman) as he discussed the Yankees' slow start. (New York Times) Still, the Daily News' Bob Raissman says Cashman needn't worry; he believes Hank -- or "Hankenstein," as he calls him -- is more hot air than fire, unlike his father.
THERE'S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO JINX A YANKEE: That construction worker/Red Sox fan who buried a David Ortiz jersey at the new Yankee Stadium -- which the Yanks dug up at enormous cost, to break a potential Big Papi hex -- is now telling friends he also buried a program from the 2004 ALCS there. (New York Times)
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Old pal Rob Neyer tries to get to the bottom of one of the Thurman Munson legends -- the one where he becomes infuriated by an item in that day's press notes that he had two fewer assists than arch-enemy Carlton Fisk, so he deliberately dropped three third strikes in order to throw the batters out at first and pass Fisk in the assists category -- and concludes there's nothing to it. (ESPN.com, printing an excerpt of Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends)
THE FALLOUT: Ryan Braun says he didn't think the Brewers went into Boston expecting to win last weekend -- and they didn't -- and general manager Doug Melvin believes it's a matter of confidence. Milwaukee had it last year, he thinks, and now the players have to get it back. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
CHANGE IN PLANS: The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin says things haven't exactly gone as planned during J.P. Ricciardi's term as Blue Jays general manager. The Jays, he says, have not become the player-development machine -- to coin a Theo Epstein phrase -- Ricciardi promised when he took over seven years ago.
Red Sox fan may have buried more surprises at Yankee Stadium
Construction worker Gino Castignoli, who gained notoriety when he buried a David Ortiz jersey at the site of the new Yankee Stadium in an effort to "curse" the Bombers (he may have actually cursed Ortiz, who broke out of his horrendous season-opening slump almost as soon as the Yanks paid to have the shirt dug up), now says that he also left a scorecard from the 2004 American League Championship Series, when the Sox came back from three games down to beat the Yankees.
Is he telling the truth? Who knows. But if he is, as someone here said this morning, we'd like this guy to consider running for president of Red Sox Nation?
Tidbits in the wake of Jon Lester's no-hitter . . .
After going 35 1/2 years between no-hitters -- from Dave Morehead against the Indians at Fenway Park on Sept. 16, 1965, to Hideo Nomo against the Orioles in Baltimore on April 4, 2001 -- the Red Sox have now thrown four in the last eight seasons:
-- Nomo vs. the Orioles
-- Derek Lowe vs. the Devil Rays (and, yes, they were still devilish back then) at Fenway Park in a 10-0 win on April 27, 2002
-- Clay Buchholz vs. the Orioles at Fenway in a 10-0 win on Sept. 1, 2007
-- Jon Lester vs. the Royals at Fenway in a 7-0 win on May 19, 2008
Even more history
Jason Varitek was behind the plate for all four no-hitters and has tied Ray Schalk of the White Sox for most no-hitters caught by a catcher. Schalk -- one of the clean members of the Black Sox team that threw the 1919 World Series -- caught two in 1914 and one each in 1917 and 1922.
They're number one
The Red Sox now have 19 no-hitters in their history, the most of any American League franchise.
Both Buchholz and Lester closed out their no-hitters with strikeouts. Buchholz' was called, Lester's was swinging.
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Jon Lester deals in the first inning of his historic start tonight.
He did it!
Jon Lester has fired a no-hitter as the Red Sox have beaten Kansas City, 7-0, tonight at Fenway.
With the crowd of 37,746 roaring, Lester walked Esteban German to lead off the ninth. He retired Tony Pena on a high bouncer to third, with German moving to second. He went to 2-2 before getting Tony Pena on a grounder to first that Kevin Youkilis handled alone.
Lester got ahead of Alberto Callaspo with two quick strikes. He threw one ball, got a foul ball and then, on his 130th pitch of the night, fired a fastball. Callaspo swung and missed.
As so often happens with a no-hitter, the game included an outstanding defensive play to keep it going. This one was provided by Jacoby Ellsbury, who raced in and toward right, dove and caught a fly ball by Jose Guillen in the fourth.
Lester struck out nine, a season high.
It is the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history. Lester is the first lefty to get a no-hitter since Mel Parnell on July 14, 1956.
Jon Lester has turned a cold night in May into the most exciting game of the Red Sox season thus far.
The lefty has a no-hitter through eight innings as the Red Sox lead Kansas City, 7 -0. Lester has allowed only one base runner, a walk to Billy Butler in the second. He has struck out a season high eight.
-- Manager Terry Francona saw his son, Nick, graduate from the University of Pennsylvania this morning at Franklin Field. He made it back to Fenway Park around 3:30.
-- Clay Buchholz, on the disabled list because of a torn fingernail on the middle finger of his right hand, has been limited in what he has been able to do. The Sox want to make sure the nail heals before they will allow him to get serious about throwing.
-- Justin Masterson, scheduled to be called up from Portland to start tomorrow night's game against Kansas City, likely will watch tonight's game in his hotel room. Regulations prohibit him from being at the field until the day he is activated.
Kevin Youkilis already has bashed nine homers this season, including seven in his last 13 games.
Youkilis, known for his patience at the plate and for seeing plenty of pitches per at-bat, has been more aggressive this season. It's not a case of Youkilis swinging for the fences, however, said manager Terry Francona.
"He has been consistent. He hasn't sold out his swing to hit home runs," said Francona. "When they make some mistakes he has hit home runs. But he's still getting hits to right field and right-center, trying to hit the ball the other way.
"He has come a long way, grown up a lot as a hitter and a player," added Francona. "He's a professional hitter. The first spring he didn't have many at-bats, but he pulled only one ball hard. Now if he sees a pitch he likes he has been aggressive. He's getting his pitch and whacking it."
Youkilis enters tonight's game second in the league in batting, at .329.
Hideki Okajima, who hasn't thrown since last Wednesday, when he surrendered a game-losing grand slam to the Orioles' Jay Payton, was given permission to play catch this afternoon.
Okajima was shut down after that outing in Baltimore, with the team saying the left-hander has been suffering from soreness in his left wrist.
He started off gingerly tossing from about 20 feet, but felt well enough to play catch from 60 or so feet, and he had some zip on his tosses. Manager Terry Francona said a bit earlier that if he does feel well after throwing, the Sox' staff would have to decide if, having not thrown in a game for four days, Okajima would be able to help them tonight in his normal late-inning set-up role.
The story contains quotes from Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew, Mike Timlin, Kevin Youkilis, Alex Cora, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz and Sean Casey. All these guys praise Ramirez's seriousness of purpose. The story also includes a poll that seems pretty out of place: What do you think of Manny Ramirez? The choices: Knucklehead, too laid back, misunderstood, still not sure. I'd take "all-time great player," but it's not an option.
Player to Watch: Royals believe young closer is one to count on for years to come
MIAMI (AP) - The curve from Joakim Soria lacked its usual bite and stayed a little higher than he wanted, which is why it came to rest beyond the center-field wall.
Jeremy Hermida's two-run homer cut the Kansas City Royals' lead over Florida to 7-6. The runs were the first allowed by Soria this season.
"It was coming someday," the young closer said later Friday night. "Someday someone was going to hit me. It's OK. It's no big deal."
If Soria didn't sound flustered, he didn't pitch that way, either. He struck out the next two batters, both on curves, for his 11th save in as many chances.
The performance showed why the Royals want Soria to remain with them for years to come.
"He's very calm," Royals pitching coach Bob McClure said. "He doesn't panic. He's just an old-time baseball player playing a game. You feel confident that when he comes in, the game is going to be over."
Soria's hiccup sent his ERA skyrocketing to 1.04. The Royals weren't exactly alarmed - on Saturday they gave him an $8.75 million, three-year contract extension, a deal that includes three club options that could raise the value to at least $30.75 million.
Soria has come a long way from the winter league in his native Mexico, where he pitched after the 2006 season. At that point he had yet to climb above Class A.
"I don't want to think about that," Soria said with a smile. "That was a long time ago."
Actually, his emergence as one of the game's top relievers happened quickly, and before he turned 24 Sunday.
Acquired when the San Diego Padres left him unprotected in the 2006 winter meeting draft, Soria won a job last season in the Royals' bullpen and pitched so well closer Octavio Dotel became expendable. Soria went 17-for-21 in save chances and had an ERA of 2.48, third among major league rookies.
This year he has been even better. He began the week with 20 strikeouts while allowing only five hits and two walks in 17 1-3 innings. Opponents were batting .088 against the right-hander.
He threw 16 2-3 scoreless innings to start the season, one-third of an inning shy of the Royals record. His 11-for-11 start in saves matches Al Hrabosky's 1978 team record to begin a season.
The Royals have finished last in the AL Central the past four years, but they began this week within a game of .500 and in the thick of this year's race thanks in large part to the contribution of their closer.
"No matter how much I say, it's still going to understate it," manager Trey Hillman said. "I like the calmness with which he goes about his business. For the comfort level of the club, with our youth, I think it helps to have a guy who takes the mound in that situation be a calm guy, rather than a guy who has a lot of moving parts and 'Wild Thing' playing on the speaker system when he comes in."
At home Soria enters games to "Welcome to the Jungle." He grew a beard before this season but still looks boyish, especially when he smiles and flashes his braces.
But to hitters he's plenty intimidating, throwing four pitches with excellent command.
"The guy's amazing," teammate Jose Guillen said. "He's not going to blow you away with a 95-mph fastball, but he's a smart guy who knows what he's doing."
Soria's hero growing up was Greg Maddux, and like his idol, he gets hitters out by keeping them off balance and staying ahead in the count.
Soria throws a curve, slider, fastball and changeup - a large repertoire for a closer. He was a starter in the Mexican winter league and said he would be happy to join the Royals rotation.
"If the Royals need as a starter, I don't have any problem with that," he said. "I have fun being a closer, so maybe I would have fun being a starter, too."
His new contract was structured to account for such a change.
Soria, who's making $426,500 this season, will be paid $1 million in 2009, $3 million in 2010 and $4 million in 2011. The club options are $6 million for 2012, $8 million for 2013 and $8.75 million for 2014, with a $750,000 buyout for each. "It's a big deal for me, for my career and my family," Soria said.
Starting or closing, the Royals figure he'll be worth it.
BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Red Sox have installed solar water heaters at Fenway Park, as part of an effort to make the ballpark more environmentally friendly.
The Red Sox formally unveiled the rooftop system Monday. They say the heaters will generate enough heat to replace 37 percent of the gas traditionally used to heat water at Fenway Park.
The nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation says the system will help avoid 18 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. That's the equivalent of planting 4.86 acres of trees or not driving a car for 43,611 miles.
The club is working on other "green" initiatives, including installing solar-powered trash compactors and collecting plastic soda and water bottles from fans during games.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: the Red Sox' interleague dominance, Josh Beckett's recent problems, Manny Delcarmen's increased responsibilities in the bullpen, and the coming starts by Justin Masterson and Bartolo Colon.
STANDING TALL ONCE AGAIN: When last we spoke, the Red Sox had lost four in a row and fallen behind Tampa Bay into second place in the A.L. East. But then along came the Brewers . . . or, perhaps more to the point, along came interleague play. Sean McAdam tells us that's been a boon to Boston in recent years and this weekend was no different, as the poor Brew Crew soon discovered. The Sox beat them Saturday afternoon, they pretty much beat themselves Saturday night, and the Sox overpowered them yesterday. (All stories projo.com.) So now it's Monday morning, the four-game losing streak has turned into a three-game winning streak, and the Red Sox once again lead the division. Hate interleague play (which, I'm ashamed to admit, was our stance last Friday)? Forget that. We're counting the days until June 13, when it resumes.
PAPI KNOWS BEST: Yesterday's double-and-two-homers afternoon would seem to indicate that David Ortiz (above) is finally, definitively, back on the beam (as they might have said in the 1940s). Steven Krasner goes Inside The Game to examine Ortiz' at-bats yesterday, and Joe Haggerty talks with Red Sox hitting instructor Dave Magadan, who tells how Ortiz has worked his way out of his early season slump. (hackswithhaggs.com)
WELL, THAT EXPLAINS IT: We all know the Red Sox have won two World Series in the last four seasons and we all know the roles Ortiz and Manny Ramirez have played in hanging those two flags. Makes sense, then, that SI.com's Jon Heyman would rank the signings of Ortiz and Ramirez as two of the five greatest free-agent acquisitions of all time -- Ortiz at No. 1 and Ramirez No. 5. And how I wish I could somehow travel back in time and show the piece to all the folks back in December 2000 who thought the free agent the Sox should should have signed back then was not Ramirez, but Mike Mussina.
LATE TO THE PARTY: The Jason Giambi/thong story, which has gotten play far beyond its importance, is explained by Peter Abraham. (LoHud Yankees Blog) As is true of most hot items of this type, it's much ado about nothing.
'HEY': That Phil Hughes' greeting on his blog after three weeks of silence. He doesn't say much beyond that, either.
FIGHTING FOR HIS LIFE: The New York Post reports former Yankee pitcher Dock Ellis -- who kicked drugs and alcohol nearly 30 years ago and became a drug counselor -- has cirrhosis of the liver and is deteriorating rapidly.
MEET THE MUSINGS MAN: I link to an item or two in Baseball Musings almost daily, so you know I'd in interested in Statistically Speaking's interview with David Pinto. His choices for the players he'd build his team around: Hanley Ramirez and Cole Hamels.
'WE HAVE A LOT OF ISSUES': Of course, beating the Tigers isn't the world's biggest trick these days, and manager Jim Leyland -- who admits he's "totally out of answers" -- plans to meet with general manager Dave Dombrowski today to discuss what can be done to fix things. (Detroit Free Press)
GROWING CONCERN: More and more attention is being paid to the constant shattering of maple bats and the dangers they post. The Washington Times' Mark Zuckerman reports commissioner Bud Selig is considering banning them.
Pitching Questions Answered..and other items of interest
The Red Sox this morning announced that Justin Masterson will start Tuesday against Kansas City, and a day later, will return to Portland, replaced on the roster by Bartolo Colon, who will make his Red Sox debut Wednesday.
Masterson, in effect, will take the spot vacated by Clay Buchholz (DL-finger) while Colon, with an extra day of rest, will pitch so that Daisuke Matsuzaka doesn't have to pitch on short rest. Matsuzaka would have been slated for Wednesday, but after Friday's rainout, pitched yesterday and would have been going on three days' rest.
The expectation is that Colon will remain in the rotation with Buchholz sidelined.
Manager Terry Francona, acknowledging that Masterson has been cuffed around in his last few starts for Double A Portland, said the pitcher's mistake has been leaving balls up in the zone late in games.
The club is awaiting the arrival of Chris Smith, who was in Scranton with Pawsox Saturday night.
Manager Terry Francona said Smith, who has battled some arm injuries in the past, has regained his velocity and still has a good changeup. He's both started and relieved for Pawtucket this season, ``but since going to the bullpen, has been really good,'' said Francona.
Smith will probably be with the Sox for just today and Monday, giving the Sox an additional reliever while Hideki Okajima (left wrist) has some down time.
``We wanted to stay away from (Okajima Saturday),'' said Francona. ``We might stay today, too. We just think it's in his best interest. But (Saturday, with a doubleheader) was a tough day to stay away from him.''
J.D. Drew is out of the lineup, with Coco Crisp in center and Jacoby Ellsbury in right.
``We're just mixing and matching,'' said Francona. ``J.D. played both games (Saturday) and we're trying to keep everyone feeling good about their legs.''
Outfielder Brandon Moss, who underwent an emergency appendectomy a few weeks ago, will get some at-bats in extended spring training Monday and Tuesday, then join the Pawsox in mid-week.
``He's ready to go,'' said Francona, who added that veteran outfielder Bobby Kielty (broken hand) remains at home in California.
Immediately after the game, Francona is set to leave for Philadelphia where Monday morning, he'll attend his son Nick's college graduation at the University of Pennsylvania.
BOSTON -- Seven errors. Six unearned runs. A parade of seven pitchers to the mound who combined for 11 walks and 326 pitches in three-plus hours. Add it all up, and it spells U-G-L-Y.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As far the Red Sox are concerned, their come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Brewers in the nightcap of Saturday's day/night doubleheader was a sight to behold.
"It’s not easy to do,” manager Terry Francona said of sweeping a doubleheader, which -- thanks to their 5-3 win in the first game -- the Sox accomplished with Saturday night's comeback. "We used every pitcher that was available and we found a way to win that second game."
Tim Wakefield started the nightcap and was staked to a 5-0 lead after five innings. He departed with one out in the sixth after having thrown 108 pitches, and watched as the bullpen -- specifically David Aardsma and Craig Hansen -- gave it all back and then some, as the Brewers surged ahead, 6-5, with three runs in the sixth (all of which were charged to Wakefield) and three more in the seventh.
Still, Wakefield was happier with the Sox' subsequent rally -- they scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to move back ahead, 7-6, at which point Javier Lopez and Mike Timlin nailed it down -- which completed the sweep, than he was disappointed at losing a chance for a personal victory.
"It’s huge, especially with [Hideki] Okajima and [Jonathan] Papelbon [unavailable] for the second game," he said. (Okajima will be sidelined several days because of a sore wrist, and Papelbon had pitched in the opener on Saturday evening.) "The offense did a great job coming back and Mike Timlin got the save. It’s been a while, but I’m glad to see he got an opportunity to get a save and we won.”
With that save, Timlin, 42, became the oldest major-league pitcher to record a save since John Franco did it for the Mets against the Dodgers on Aug. 24, 2003.
The Sox had built their lead on a two-run double by Mike Lowell in the first, a two-run homer by Lowell in the third, and an error by third baseman Billy Hall which allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to score from third base with two outs in the fifth.
The Brewer comeback began in the sixth when, with one out, Corey Hart launched a rocket shot off Wakefield over the Monster Seats and out of the ballpark, making it 5-1. After Wakefield allowed a single to former teammate Gabe Kapler (1-for-5 with two runs scored and a rousing ovation in his Fenway return) and hit Hall, he was lifted in favor of Aardsma.
Aardsma started well enough, freezing Mike Rivera with a called third strike on the inside corner. But he hit Craig Counsell, loading the bases, and Richie Weeks won a long battle by fouling off several pitches and then spiking a two-run single to left on a 3-and-2 offering. Aardsma reloaded the bases when he walked Mike Cameron before escaping further damage by inducing Braun to foul out to first baseman Kevin Youkilis.
The further damage arrived in the seventh when Hansen took over, though he was wasn't helped by his defense. He gave up a leadoff single to Prince Fielder and struck out Hart. Lowell, at third base, then committed a rare throwing error on a slow chop by Kapler, putting runners at first and second. Shortstop Alex Cora compounded the problem by booting the in-between hop on a slow grounder by Hall, loading the bases.
The Brewers made it 5-4 on a fielder's choice grounder by Rivera, putting runners on first and third. Rivera soon made it into scoring position on a wild pitch by Hansen. Kapler held at third, but he wasn't there long; Counsell ripped a two-run double down the right-field line, scoring both runners and putting Milwaukee ahead, 6-5.
The Brewers entrusted the lead to Salomon Torres, whom they brought on in relief of starter David Bush, and it didn't take long for the Sox to jump on the 36-year-old right-hander . . . though, like Hansen, Torres had a case for defensive non-support. Ellsbury reached on an error by Weeks at second base. Dustin Pedroia hit a grounder to third and Hall's throw to second in an attempt to force Ellsbury went into right field, putting runners at second and third.
David Ortiz tied the game with a grounder to short, moving Pedroia to third. The Brewers then brought their infield in, which put them out of position to catch a popup into short right field by Youkilis. It fell for a hit, Pedroia scored, and the Sox were back ahead to stay,
"It’s always a battle," said Youkilis, who provided the would-be game-winning RBI in the seventh inning. "It’s a long day and by the end of the second game your body is tired."
It was clear late Saturday night that the Red Sox players were drained. It won’t get any easier, however, as the two teams play at 1:35 p.m. on Sunday.
"It’s baseball, you’re going to get something different every time you watch the game," said center fielder Coco Crisp. “It’s not like ice skating, where you know what you’re going to get where they have to do the mandatory jumps."
BOSTON -- Until May 5, Mike Lowell, who led the Red Sox RBI last season, had yet to knock in a run. Since then, he's been more than making up for lost time.
As the Sox capped their doubleheader sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers with a 7-6 win Saturday night, Lowell provided much of the early offense, doubling home two runs in the first and adding a two-run homer in the third.
That outburst continued a torrid streak for Lowell over the last two weeks, which has seen him go 18-for-49 (.367) with five homers and 15 RBI.
The hot streak began on the team's recent three-city, 10-game road trip. Now that the Sox are home for a seven-game homestand, Lowell is hoping it continues.
"I think the whole trip, I was pretty comfortable and seeing the ball well,'' said Lowell. "When I got my pitch, I was putting it in play and not fouling it off. I was fortunate to do it twice today and drive in some runs for us."
Lowell gave the Sox a 2-0 jumpstart in the bottom of the first, when, after a two-out walk by David Ortiz and a double to left by Kevin Youkilis, he drove a double into the left-field corner off David Bush.
In the third, again with two out, he jumped on a pitch from Lowell and sent it into the Monster Seats, doubling the Sox lead.
Finally, after a month of April that saw him begin slowly, then spend more than two weeks on the disabled list because of a sprained thumb ligament, Lowell feels it coming together at the plate.
"I can't say that I did this or I did that,'' said Lowell of his turnaround. "I think I just needed some at-bats under my belt.''
Then again, as Lowell pointed out, the Sox were up against some good performances from Toronto and Tampa Bay starting pitchers.
"I'm happy with the way things are going now," said Lowell, who has five homers in the the last 12 games and has hit safely in eight of his last nine games. "I hope it continues."
The odds would seem to be in his favor, since Lowell has traditionally been a better hitter at Fenway than he has on the road.
"I think people break down numbers so much, it's hard to figure some things out,'' he said. "In 2006, I hit better on the road (.310 away from home and .260 at Fenway) and last year, I was better here (.373 at Fenway and .276 in road games). Someone told me last year that all of my homers either came at home or against A.L. East teams. But this year, my first three homers came against A.L. Central teams (Detroit and Minnesota). So, who knows?
"I just know my job is to produce in the middle of the order.''
BOSTON -- After the Red Sox won both games of Saturday's day/night doubleheader over the Brewers at Fenway Park, they optioned outfielder Jonathan Van Every back to Pawtucket and purchased the contract of reliever Chris Smith.
Smith will join the Red Sox on Sunday in his major-league debut.
The right-hander has been outstanding for the PawSox this season, recording four saves in six relief outings with a 0.90 ERA. He's allowed one earned run in 10 innings out of the pen. Smith started four games at the beginning of the season in Pawtucket, and overall is 1-2 with a 1.45 ERA in 31 innings.
The Sox needed to make this move due to their bullpen being taxed. Every member of the relief corps except Hideki Okajima, who is temporarily sidelined because of a wrist injury, worked in one of the games in Saturday's doubleheader.
Here's the feature story I wrote about Smith last week at McCoy Stadium.
PAWTUCKET - Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Chris Smith doesn’t like to waste time.
When he’s on the mound, he works quickly and usually gets the job done. Smith, a seven-year pro in the Red Sox organization, has always faced adversity in his career but now he feels he’s back where he needs to be.
Originally selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2002 draft, the one-time pitching prospect suffered a compound fracture in his right pitching forearm prior to the 2003 season. He had just completed a promising rookie campaign with Single-A Lowell, but the injury, which required surgery, halted his development.
He returned to the mound in 2003 in a dramatic comeback. Smith began the 2004 season with Double-A Portland, but after 14 starts he suffered a bout of tendinitis in his throwing shoulder and was shut down for the remainder of the year.
The summer of 2005 was much the same as he continued to battle the shoulder problems. He eventually needed surgery to repair a torn labrum. For the last two seasons he has split time between Portland and Pawtucket.
He began this season with the Sea Dogs but never threw a pitch until he was called up to Pawtucket on April 7 to replace Bartolo Colon, who suffered an oblique strain. Since his arrival at McCoy Stadium, Smith has worked as both a starter and reliever and compiled a 1-2 record with one save and a 1.65 ERA.
Smith was impressive Thursday night, working two perfect innings of relief against the Durham Bulls to help Pawtucket to a 3-2 victory. PawSox manager Ron Johnson called Smith’s outing "dirty" and he expects to see much more of that this season.
"I feel really good," said Smith. "Actually, I feel 100-percent great. I’m high on confidence and it’s the best I’ve felt post-surgery. I feel like nothing has ever happened. I understood it would take a little time, and that’s what they told me, and I figured out it does take time. I can’t wait to throw every day and I feel healthy."
Smith said he was a little impatient at first because the shoulder was not responding as quickly as he hoped. In fact, it took 2 1/2 years before he felt back to normal. The process, he says, was long and arduous, something he had to get used to. Still, Smith didn’t think it would take this long.
"Not a chance," he said. "I was ready for a year-and-a-half (rehab), and here I am almost four years after the surgery [before I got back to] 100 percent. After a year-and-a-half, I was competing but not getting guys out. I wanted to see some conviction behind my pitches and that’s what I’m seeing now."
Smith is 27 now and he hasn’t been considered a prospect for a few years. That’s not to say he’s out of the loop because with the way he’s pitched of late he has put himself back on the radar.
"Yeah, when you’re younger you want to hear that you’re a prospect," he said. "When you get older, you’re not a prospect anymore. You might be a name that gets mentioned, but you’re no where near a prospect. Some people say they don’t want to be on the radar; they want to be below the radar. Now it’s time for me to be on the radar. I want people to start knowing that I’m doing well."
Not only has Smith had to deal with the shoulder injury and long recovery period, his role has changed, too. The right-hander has been a starter. He’s been a reliever. It’s flip-flopped so many times now it must be hard to figure out what he’s actually doing.
"Whatever role they put me in, I just want to go 100 percent," he said. "If I’m a starter, I want to make a long impact, and if I’m a reliever, I want to make a short impact.
Smith’s repertoire includes a fastball -- usually between 88 and 92 mph -- a nasty curve ball and an above-average changeup. His velocity is back to where it was pre-surgery and Johnson said he couldn’t be more pleased with Smith’s performances.
Johnson managed Portland when Smith was blowing away opposing hitters in 2004, recording 85 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings of work. Now, to see the kind of success he’s having makes it even better for the Pawtucket manager.
"I couldn’t be more excited about a player as I am with him in a long time," said Johnson. "He has above-average game awareness when he pitches. He always had above-average command, but the thing he was lacking was getting that velocity back after the surgery. I couldn’t be more excited about the guy."
The Boston Red Sox felt that earlier in Smith’s career that he had the potential to be a major-league pitcher. Even though his career suffered a detour, it appears he’s worthy enough again to be considered.
Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima has a sore wrist and will be shut down for a couple of days. The left-hander has been complaining about discomfort, but has been able to pitch through it. Manager Terry Francona said the team will be cautious.
"He's okay," said Francona. "We're certainly going to keep a close eye on him in the next couple of days."
Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp had to leave Tuesday's game in Baltimore after feeling dizzy, and while manager Terry Francona said today that Crisp is feeling better, the outfielder just admitted he's suffering from a "mild case" of vertigo.
Crisp said he really can't describe the feeling, which he called a pounding sensation, but said it ranks as a seven on a scale of 1 to 10.
He's been taking medication for it and he joked about it, saying maybe he's taking too many pills.
Crisp dealt with an inner-ear issue last season, which caused dizziness and nausea. He said this latest bout feels similar to that.
"I'm still feeling a little lightheaded," he said. "But I feel like tomorrow or the next day I'll be back to 100 percent."
He was able to take BP today and was planning on running to see how he feels.
Curt Schilling is in the Red Sox clubhouse today, joking with teammates and enjoying himself. He has reason for optimism.
Manager Terry Francona reported in his pre-game meeting just now that Schilling continues to make progress in his bid to return from shoulder problems.
``You know what, he’s doing OK,’’ Francona said. ``Everything that’s been asked of him, as far as throwing, he’s handled it, I would say, with enthusiasm, which is a good sign.’’
``He’s been upping the amount of throws, the first couple time it was 60 feet with 25 throws, now it’s maybe 90 feet with 30. The whole idea is to build up arm strength and not go backwards,’’ Francona said.
The next step will be to have Schilling do some long tossing at 120 feet.
The sun is peeking in and out of the clouds right now, but there should be no problem getting both games in after last night’s postponement.
The Red Sox have made one change from the lineup they were planning to use last night against Milwaukee starter Jeff Suppan. Sean Casey will start at first base, Kevin Youkilis will move to third and Mike Lowell will get the afternoon off.
``We have three games in 20 hours or 22 hours or whatever it is,’’ said Sox manager Terry Francona. The plan will be to get a number of players one game off. Lowell has not had success in the past against Suppan and Casey has, so it is a matter of going with the numbers, Francona said. Lowell is 0-for-11 against Suppan, Casey 6-for-18.
The Brewers are staying with the same lineup they had listed last night against Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Here are the lineups for the 3:55 game:
The Red Sox had almost no options in rescheduling tonight’s game.
It is Milwaukee’s only trip to Boston. Today’s game is locked in at 3:55 p.m. because it is a nationally televised Fox game. Tomorrow was not a possibility for separate admission games because rules dictate that no game can begin after 5 p.m. to avoid conflict with ESPN’s Sunday night national telecast. The only way to play two on Sunday would be as a single-admission doubleheader, a situation that would cost the team much money.
As it is, the situation is touchy. If the first game tomorrow goes long, the second game might not start at 8:35, as planned. Workers need about 45 minutes to an hour to clean up sufficiently after a game, said John Blake, the team’s vice president for media relations.
Thus, if the opener tomorrow goes four hours and does not end until 8 p.m. it likely will be closer to 9 p.m. before the second game can begin. If it goes even longer, fans will simply be asked to wait outside, after the first game ends, to allow workers to do some cleaning.
Tickets for tonight’s game will be used for the 8:35 game tomorrow.
The Sox have been placed in a similar situation once before, in May of 2005. They split that doubleheader with Seattle. The Mariners won the nightcap 6-4 on a grandslam by Richie Sexon off Cla Meredith.
It appears Red Sox pitching prospect Daniel Bard is heading to Double-A Portland. The Red Sox selected the right-hander as their second pick (28th overall) in the 2006 draft.
He posted a 3-7 mark with a 7.08 ERA in 2007, his first pro season split between Lancaster and Greenville. He played winter ball in Hawaii and that proved crucial as he's dominating in Greenville this season. The reliever is 1-0 with a 0.67 ERA in 14 appearances for the Drive. He's posted 42 strikeouts in 27 innings.
Red Sox minor-league first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been diagnosed with limited stage classical Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
The Red Sox just released a statement, saying the 18-year-old is being treated as an out-patient at Massachusetts General Hospital's Oncology Unit. Rizzo will return home to Miami in the next few days to continue his treatment, which is expected to take 6-8 months, according to the release.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony and his family at this very difficult time," said Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. "We are optimistic about his recovery and look forward to the day he can return to the playing field."
The Red Sox selected Rizzo in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. He was hitting .373 with 11 RBI at Single-A Greenville.
There rarely is any middle ground when a former Red Sox player returns to Fenway in an opposing uniform. Today is a dramatic example of that, at least it is in the case of Gabe Kapler and Eric Gagne.
Gagne, the relief pitcher who struggled so much for the Sox last season, was not around very much, if at all.
While Gagne is not likely to receive a warm welcome from the Boston fans, Kapler is the opposite.. Rarely has any player been more popular with both the team and the Boston fans.
``I just got a chance to spend a little bit of time over in the Red Sox weight training facility,’’ Kapler related. ``It was good to see some old faces, shake some hands and give some hugs. I don’t know how emotional it is, but it certainly feels good. All I’ve ever felt being here is warmth, so it’s nothing new.’’
Kapler retired last year and managed Boston’s Class A team in Greenville. He said he decided late last season to try to return as a player. He is hitting .284 in 67 at-bats for the Brewers, with four home runs and 13 RBI. Kapler made no effort to hide his pleasure in being back at Fenway.
``I feel like the Red Sox always have my best interests at heart,’’ he said. Sox officials were not upset, he said, when he told them he wanted to return to being a player again.
``I think they understood it was a heartfelt decision, an intuitive decision,’’ Kapler said. ``They respected that.’’
The Sox obviously respect Kapler.
``I don’t know that Gabe will ever do something that’s he not successful at. Whatever he does does he throws himself into it,’ said Sox Boston manager Terry Francona. ``He’ll be good at whatever he wants to be good at.’’
Kapler and Gagne are two of four Milwaukee players, along with Jeff Suppan and David Riske, who were in uniform for the Brewers in the team’s first visit to Fenway since Milwaukee moved to the National League.
BOSTON -- Both J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo are back in the lineup for the Red Sox as they open a seven-game homestand at Fenway.
Lugo, who missed the second-half of the recent road trip with a minor concussion, was cleared by the Sox medical staff Thursday. He's back at shortstop.
Drew, who rolled his wrist attempting to make a catch Tuesday night in Baltimore, is back, too, playing his customary right field.
Coco Crisp, who came out of Tuesday's game complaining of illness, is still cleared to return. He underwent some tests on the off-day, which came back negative.
``He feels better,'' said manager Terry Francona. ``(But) I don't think he feels terrific. I don't think he's 100 percent yet. Whatever hit him, hit him hard.''
The Sox are making no pronouncements about Tuesday's starter. With Clay Buchholz (finger) sidelined and on the disabled list, the Sox need a starting pitcher from beyond their current staff.
Sepculation has centered around Bartolo Colon, who pitched well for Pawtucket (six innings, one hit allowed, 64 pitches) in a rehab start Thursday, but Francona said that talk is premature.
``I don't have anything yet,'' said Francona. ``We'd like to take (some additional time) and talk it over and get more information from people.''
Other possibilities include David Pauley and Justin Masterson. Both made rehab starts last month when the Sox were struck by the flu and needed emergency starters.
Francona was happy to see former Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler -- now with Milwaukee -- in the Fenway Park weight room earlier this afternoon.
``That was a welcome sight,'' Francona said, ``I don't care what uniform he's in.''
Kapler, who played for the Sox from 2003 through 2006 and managed their Single A affiliate in Greenville last year, is not in the starting lineup for the Brewers tonight.
The current weather forecast (provided by the Red Sox private weather service, Meteorlogix) in the vicinity of Fenway Park calls for a possibility of some light rain showers during the late afternoon and evening hours.
The Fenway Park gates will open at the regularly scheduled time of 5:05 p.m., and the Red Sox expect that tonight’s game with the Milwaukee Brewers will begin on-time at 7:05 p.m. However, the Red Sox want to alert our fans to the current forecast.
This forecast is of course subject to change as the day progresses. Additional updates will be provided as necessary.
Just arrived at Fenway Park about an hour ago and the BP cages and nets were on the field. Well, the grounds crew just came sprinting out to remove the equipment and put the tarp on. The forecast doesn't look good for tonight, but we'lll keep you updated.
Much is being made of the fact that the Yankees, at 20-22, are in last place in the American League East, 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, the team that just beat the Yanks three out of four. Last year the Yankees were in second place through 42 games of the season, but how's this for perspective: They had a worse record (19-23) and were already a whopping 10 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the A.L. East. Of course, the Yanks stormed back to threaten for the division and make the postseason. Point is: Don't count Joe Girardi's team out.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Interleague play begins
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: a chance for the Red Sox to make a move at home, the return of Gabe Kapler and Eric Gagne, Kapler's return to the big leagues, and who the Red Sox start Tuesday in place of Clay Buchholz.
TWO TO GO: Let the countdown really begin. Manny Ramirez is two home runs away from 500, something he could accomplish in a single night. The anticipation began building during the last homestand -- the Sox stuck that '496' banner on one of the left-field light towers, but never got to update it as he went homerless against the Blue Jays and Rays -- and it'll be a nightly (or daily) thing now, starting this evening when the Brewers come to town. Joe McDonald looks at Ramirez' career and talks to ex-Red Sox pitcher Ken Ryan about facing Ramirez. "I thought I was Superman," Ryan said when recalling a long battle in Cleveland that ended with a Manny walkoff home run, "but I quickly realized who Superman really was.”
ENOUGH, ALREADY: Alex Rodriguez has a message for Yankee fans outraged that he taped a congratulatory message that will be played when Ramirez hits his 500th home run: Get over it. (New York Daily News)
SUPERMAN'S PAL: God bless the Internet. The blog The Lost Ogle tracked down the Red Sox fan in Baltimore who high-fived with Manny after Ramirez made his great catch Wednesday afternoon. Turns out he's a native of Oklahoma -- Barry Switzer's nephew, no less -- who became a member of the Nation in 2003 because his best friend at Oklahoma State was a New Englander who turned him onto the Sox. Despite the ruckus it caused in the media, he said no one sitting around him even realized he had high-fived Ramirez except for a husband and wife sitting next to him (though they had a radio and told him it was the talk of the Orioles broadcast for the next few innings). He was actually preparing to catch Ramirez, whom he assumed was doing a Lambeau Leap into the stands -- now that would have been a Manny Being Manny moment, a Lambeau Leap while play was still going on -- and added, "I’m not sure I’d call [what they did] a high-five. Maybe more of a slap 4."
Like I said: God bless the Internet.
A QUIET CORNER OF THE INTERNET: Bet you didn't know Manny has his own Web site. Doesn't look like it's been updated since last October, though, and some of the corners -- like the one which celebrates his first home run of 2007 -- are even dustier.
A BUSIER CORNER OF THE INTERNET: Curt Schilling makes a chatty appearance on 38pitches.com in which, among other things, he tells us he loves the ESPN commercial parodying the bloody sock and warns us the Rays are for real.
MYSTERY GUEST: Puzzled by the fact that Daisuke Matsuzaka has such dominating statistics and yet still struggles so with his command and his control? So are the Red Sox. (Boston Herald)
THEY'RE NOT SAYING BOO, THEY'RE SAYING . . . Lou, as in Merloni, as in NESN's newest analyst. (Boston Globe)
MONBO: The Globe's Stan Grossfeld has a touching piece on ex-Red Sox pitcher Bill Monbouquette -- one of the few beacons of light during the very dark days of the early 1960s -- who's battling leukemia.
BACK IN THE FOLD: Kevin Millar irritated quite a number of people in Baltimore last fall when he recorded a bit for Fox urging Red Sox fans to keep the faith, and then threw out the first ball before Game Seven of the ALCS. But now he's back in their good graces with this, ah, inspiring version of Orioles Magic.
FLIP SIDE: The Yanks had high hopes they'd be seeing a new Ian Kennedy when he took the mound yesterday, but it was the same old same old as the team dropped into last place with the 5-2 loss. (New York Daily News) Now they get to see the pitcher they wouldn't trade Kennedy for -- Johan Santana -- when the Mets come to the Bronx tonight. (New York Daily News) A bad weekend might spark another outburst from Hank Steinbrenner, and that's okay by Tino Martinez. (New York Post)
FACE THE MUSIC: Last year, you may recall, then-Met Paul Lo Duca ripped his Hispanic teammates for using the language barrier as an excuse to duck talking to the media. Yesterday, current Met Billy Wagner -- while leaving race out of it -- went into a similar rant about teammates who refuse to speak to reporters, leaving the burden to players, like him, who don't duck into the trainer's room or out the door. (New York Daily News) Wagner called out Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado by implication -- though the New York Post reports Beltran actually did speak -- and promised the situation "will be reconciled [Friday]."
NOBLE BY COMPARISON: In an online-only piece, the Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley thinks the steroids era actually was a boon to players like Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr., who achieved greatness without artificial help and will be applauded for it.
AND FOR THOSE FOUR PEOPLE LEFT WHO STILL DON'T THINK HE'S CLUELESS . . . Astros owner Drayton McLane says Roger Clemens is still up in the air about actually being retired. (mlb.com) Can you imagine the crowd reaction if Clemens ever walked onto a field again?
I'M WITH YOU, SIR: Yesterday, President Bush was singing Chase Utley's praises. Today it's Mike Schmidt. (USA Today)
Bartolo Colon, in his second Triple-A start since a stint on the disabled list, threw six innings of one-hit, shutout ball as the Pawtucket Red Sox beat the Buffalo Bisons, 2-0, today in Buffalo. The game was only seven innings under Triple-A rules, because it is part of a double header. Colon struck out four batters, all of them looking, did not walk anyone and needed only 64 pitches to get through the six innings.
The PawSox scored both of their runs in the first, on an RBI single by George Kottaras and a sacrifice fly by Sandy Madera.
As Steve Krasner reported today, Colon could be a candidate to start for the Red Sox against Kansas City on Tuesday, now that Clay Buchholz has been placed on the disabled list.
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester is tossing free ice coffees today to customers of the Dunkin' Donuts on 1678 Post Road, Warwick. A company spokeswoman said Lester is there now and probably will leave by noon.
Lester is pitching in on a Dunkin' Donuts promotion that gives customers a free 16-ounce (small) iced coffee from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at participating shops nationwide.
Two customers in Warwick will win a pair of Red Sox tickets each to an upcoming Red Sox home game.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: Hideki Okajima's ineffectiveness with runners on base, and what the Red Sox have to do about it, the team's hot-and-cold nature in the early part of the season, and Manny Ramirez's endless entertainment value.
BUT FIRST . . . There are serious, disconcerting issues facing the Red Sox on this morning, but I don't know. When your left fielder makes a running catch with his momentum carrying him up onto the wall, high-fives a fan (above), comes down, and fires the ball into the infield to start a double play . . . well, how bad can things be? Check out Ian Bethune's Sox and Dawgs blog for a video clip of the play, which kicks off a three-minute reel of ESPN's favorite Manny being Manny moments, some of which (the sprawling cutoff of Johnny Damon's throw while he was in dead center field) I remember and others (calling Edgar Renteria off a pop up, then letting the ball drop and having it carom off his knee into right field) I'd forgotten.
We all laughed when Manny anointed himself as the best defensive left fielder in Red Sox history, but you ever see Yaz or Ted or Jim Rice do that?
AND NOW BACK TO OUR SHOW: All you can do is laugh, because the alternative is pretty grim. The Sox blew a 3-0 lead for the third consecutive game yesterday and their season-long Achilles heel -- the bullpen -- never looked worse than it does now. Steven Krasner has the details of a frustrating afternoon in Baltimore, where a lead that was down to 3-2 by the seventh inning evaporated in the span of four batters with two outs and nobody on. Craig Hansen poured the gasoline and Hideki Okajima lit the match, continuing a horrid stretch in which Krasner reports Okajima has allowed 11 of 14 inherited runners to score and blown four of his five save opportunities. So that makes it four losses in a row, and five in the last six games. As Krasner notes, today's off day couldn't come at a better time.
WHAT, US WORRY? Okajima had nothing to say about the game-losing grand slam he surrendered to Jay Payton, or anything else for that matter, leaving his teammates to do his talking for him. To a man, they say they're not concerned. (Boston Globe) Good, because Red Sox Nation is concerned enough for all of them . . . and then some.
MORE MANNY: You can read Ramirez', and his teammates', reaction to his one-for-the-ages catch in Krasner's notebook, which also tells us that J.D. Drew is feeling better, Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo aren't, Brandon Moss is working out in Florida as he recovers from his appendectomy, and that Jacoby Ellsbury is now 23-for-23 as a big-league base stealer.
ONE MAN'S FLOOR IS ANOTHER MAN'S CEILING: A torn fingernail sent Clay Buchholz to the disabled list, and if that sounds like a pretty flimsy reason to be disabled, well, it probably is. Fact is, with Drew and Crisp sidelined the Sox needed another outfielder toot sweet, so they used Buchholz' roster spot to summon Jonathan Van Every. Krasner has the details of Van Every's first day in the major leagues after eight years in the bushes, in which he also recorded his first big-league hit.
'CONTENDER. SERIOUSLY': So says Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal about the Rays in a look at whether or not the early season surprise teams are contenders or pretenders.
RETURNING ORDER TO THE UNIVERSE: Maybe they are, but for one night things were back to normal as Mike Mussina pitched the Yankees to victory over the Tampa Bay upstarts. (New York Daily News) Since it came after a) Hank Steinbrenner had called them out and b) Joe Girardi held a closed-door meeting before the game, many will credit the brass for "motivating" the players out of their slump. But a postgame clubhouse poll by Peter Abraham indicates otherwise. (LoHud Yankees Blog)
'PAUL FROM FAIRFAX, YOU'RE NEXT ON THE 'FAN: Ex-Met Paul Lo Duca, now with the Nationals, called WFAN yesterday just to chat, and discussed a number of topics . . . including his inclusion in the Mitchell Report. (New York Daily News)
ROCK ON, METS: The blog Mets By The Numbers has a fascinating interview with perhaps the world's unlikeliest Mets fan: George Thorogood. A Delaware native, he tells why he abandoned the Phillies for the Mets, and also has a fascinating theory -- and one I'd never thought of -- on how the Mets really won Game Six of the 1986 World Series against the Red Sox.
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk (audio only today). Sean discusses the Red Sox' harrowing day yesterday, Josh Beckett's surprising inability to retire the Orioles' usually inept lineup, the Terry Francona-Brad Mills relationship, and the Red Sox' meeting this afternoon with Daniel Cabrera, the guy who sparked a bench-clearing incident with the Sox last September.
Jonathan Van Every, in his eighth minor-league season, finally received the call he had been waiting for.
At 8 o'clock this morning, Van Every, in Buffalo with the Pawtucket Red Sox, was told he was promoted to Boston, taking the place of pitcher Clay Buchholz (torn fingernail) on the roster because the Red Sox had two outfielders unavailable -- J.D. Drew (hyperextended left wrist) and Coco Crisp (migraine-like symptoms).
"On the flight there were a million things going through my mind, childhood things," said Van Every of his childhood dream finally being realized.
The dream took on an even happier note when Van Every found out from traveling secretary Jack McCormick that he was in today's starting lineup, batting ninth. Van Every learned that bit of news when he called McCormick after landing in Baltimore.
"I wasn't expecting to play. It's definitely a great feeling. There have been many trials and tribulations," said Van Every, 27, who arrived in the clubhouse about two hours before the first pitch.
Van Every had spent the first seven years of his career in the Indians' organization, having been drafted in the 29th round of the 2000 draft. He signed with Boston as a minor-league free agent this past winter.
He is starting in center field with Jacoby Ellsbury in right field because he hasn't played a corner outfield position this season, though he does have corner outfield experience. Ellsbury has played several games in right for the Sox this season. Van Every is going to wear uniform number 30.
Clay Buchholz felt the fingernail on the middle finger of his right hand tear when he threw a two-seamer on his second warmup pitch of the second inning in his start Monday night in Minnesota.
Little did he suspect that, while the torn nail had a negative impact on his performance in that game, it would land him on the disabled list. But that's what happened this morning, when the Red Sox placed him on the 15-day DL, as much to help fortify the depleted outfield corps as anything. Boston replaced him on the roster with veteran minor-league outfielder Jonathan Van Every, called up from Pawtucket.
Buchholz said the Sox told him they didn't want him to alter any mechanics to compensate for the torn nail and possibly hurt his elbow or shoulder.
"I feel fine, like I could throw. But they told me they want to be cautious with it," said Buchholz, showing his torn nail to the media, having lost a part of the nail on the outside of the finger.
Once Buchholz felt the tear, he was forced to go more with his breaking balls and changeups, limiting the number of fastballs he could throw and the command of the pitch. Ultimately the Twins sat on his offspeed stuff -- unofficially, only 37 of his 90 pitches were fastballs -- and hammered him to the tune of seven earned runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings.
"I felt it when I did it, but I didn't look at it. When I got to the bench I saw it was bleeding, but I didn't tell anyone. I never had any swelling. It was just tender," he said.
Buchholz will not throw today, and tomorrow is a day off for the team. He'll be re-evaluated on Friday, when he'll learn what throwing plans the Sox will have for him.
In the meantime, because of the off day, Josh Beckett will slide into Buchholz' spot in the rotation on Sunday. Boston will need another starter on Tuesday, and that pitcher could be Bartolo Colon if he is able to stretch out his innings and pitch count for his next start with Pawtucket, tomorrow in Buffalo.
Coco Crisp is out of the starting lineup because of migraine-like symptoms, which forced him out of Tuesday night's game in the sixth inning.
Crisp had an excruciating headache and was vomiting. He said this morning that he didn't recall having migraines in his past, and was hoping the medication he took earlier today will allow him to be available at some point in today's game, if he's needed. If that medicine doesn't work, he said he would take some medicine specifically designed to help alleviate migraines.
"I'm feeling off and on a little better and weird at times," said Crisp quietly. "Last night on the bus ride back to the hotel I didn't feel too good. I lay down and watched TV and started to feel better so I ordered some pizza. All I'd had to eat was crackers.
"I took some medicine and this morning I went out to do some late Mother's Day shopping and when I was out I started to feel sick again," he said. "It's not stomach sickness. My head's just messed up. My head's not pounding or anything. I'm not good at describing injuries. It's just a heavy feeling, more like a wooziness than an actual headache."
Crisp said he was happy when Alex Cora made the final out of the top of the sixth, leaving Crisp in the on-deck circle. Moments later he was getting sick in the clubhouse. He appreciated Brad Mills, the bench coach filling in for manager Terry Francona (death in the family), noticing his distress.
"Millsy did a good job. He didn't put me back in. It would have been embarrassing in the batter's box with the cameras on me," said Crisp. "Once I got back to the clubhouse (and began vomiting) it was game over."
J.D. Drew, who hyperextended his left wrist in an unsuccessful attempt to make a diving catch Tuesday night, said he was "encouraged" by how his wrist felt this morning.
He said he didn't think he'd need an MRI to see if there's more damage than a simple X-ray would show, and x-rays taken after he suffered the injury were negative. Drew said he was hoping to be able to play through whatever discomfort was lingering, mentioning this weekend as a timetable. He's hopeful he won't have to be put on the disabled list.
"It's a little stiff and a little bit sore but it doesn't feel much worse than it did yesterday so that's encouraging," said Drew, who arrived in the clubhouse a short time ago still wearing the removable brace on his wrist.
"There's still a little problem with the rotational aspect of it so we'll get some treatment on it and see how it goes. Hopefully it will heal relatively quickly. I think it might take a day or two and then it can be something I can play through. I broke my ulnar (bone in his left wrist) with the Dodgers (2005) so I don't know if maybe I dislodged some scar tissue in there," said Drew.
BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox just placed Clay Buchholz on the disabled list because of a torn nail on the middle finger of his right hand and recalled outfielder Jonathan Van Every from Pawtucket.
The Sox are short of outfielders at the moment. J.D. Drew suffered a sprained left wrist in an unsuccessful attempt to make a diving catch in the third inning of Tuesday night's game and it's likely he'll be out for a while.
Coco Crisp had to leave the game in the sixth because of migraine-like symptoms -- an excruciating headache and vomiting. Jacoby Ellsbury, meanwhile, is playing despite a nasty bruise on his left knee and only three days ago Manny Ramirez had to miss a start because of a tight hamstring.
Buchholz was scheduled to pitch Sunday against Milwaukee. Josh Beckett will be able to make that start on normal rest because of the team's day off tomorrow. The Red Sox will need a fifth starter on Tuesday at home against Kansas City.
That also happens to be Bartolo Colon's day to pitch for Pawtucket, so if the Sox think he has had enough work for the PawSox (two starts), he could be in line for a promotion to Boston. He had been out of action since early April because of an oblique strain.
PREMATURE CELEBRATION: We've been treated to a score of Red Sox-are-the-best proclamations in the last week, in places like the Boston Globe, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Detroit Free Press and msnbc.com. Lost in the huzzahs is the fact that a) the Sox have lost four of five after last night's 5-4 beating in Baltimore, b) they now trail those amazing Rays in the A.L. East standings (more on that in a moment), and c) their players are dropping like flies. Steven Krasner touches on all three topics in his accounting of last night's doings, which includes a heavy emphasis on the game's turning point: The pitcher-to-home-to-first double play grounded into by Manny Ramirez with the bases loaded and no out in the seventh inning, enabling the Orioles to maintain their at-the-time 5-3 lead.
DOCTOR, DOCTOR, GIVE ME THE NEWS: After David Ortiz was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing a third-strike call by plate umpire Laz Diaz, the Sox were down to one healthy non-pitcher on the bench: Backup catcher Kevin Cash. They started the night knowing that Julio Lugo was unavailable, although Krasner reports he seems to be recovering nicely from his mild concussion and could be ready to play again soon, perhaps as early as today. Then the game started, and soon joining Lugo on the sidelines were right fielder J.D. Drew, who sprained his left wrist while trying to catch a looping fly ball hit by Freddy Bynum in the third (above), and center fielder Coco Crisp, who had to leave in the sixth when he began suffering symptoms consistent with a migraine. (Attention all of you who made Coco jokes after NESN reported he took himself out because of an "upset stomach": the line for apologies starts here.) Krasner has the postgame medical updates, and it looks like Drew -- like Mike Lowell last month -- may be out for a bit.
NO JOSHING: Like Clay Buchholz the night before, Josh Beckett was staked to a 3-0 lead before he ever took the mound. Like Clay Buchholz the night before, Josh Beckett gave the whole lead back . . . and then some. Unlike Clay Buchholz the night before -- he was rather subdued and philosophical -- Josh Beckett gave an X-rated critique of his performance that laid the blame for last night's proceedings right on his own shoulders. (Boston Herald) Even so, Jason Varitek thinks Beckett is "really close" to once again start clicking on all cylinders. (Boston Globe)
JUST WHAT THEY NEED: As if the Sox didn't have enough troubles, they'll be facing Daniel Cabrera this afternoon. In an item in his weekly notes column, Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal says the talented but eccentric right-hander is finally get his act together, which may create a do-we-trade-him-or-do-we-keep-him? quandry for the rebuilding Orioles.
THE BIG VICTORY: Forget these little setbacks. The Herald's Howie Carr says the Sox (and the Patriots) pulled off the mother of all upsets: They took down the Boston Mafia by bankrupting the bookies with their run of success.
CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK: You could always count on the in-his-prime George Steinbrenner to weigh in whenever the Yankees were struggling. Now it's Hank Steinbrenner's team, so now it's Hank Steinbrenner's turn. (New York Post)
I THOUGHT THAT WAS HIM . . . Gossage said last week that Orioles outfielder Al Bumbry was one of only six batters he intentionally hit during his career. But baseball-reference.com looked it up and discovered Gossage never hit Bumbry.
PREPARING THE GUILLOTINE: Our buddy The Tao of Stieb says John Gibbons' time is almost up in the Blue Jays' managerial chair, and tells us why.
A GIRLS SOFTBALL LEAGUE WOULDN'T LOOK SO BAD RIGHT NOW: One day after he ragged on the Nationals for acting like "a bunch of softball girls" in their dugout while he was pitching, the Mets designated Nelson Figueroa for assignment. (New York Daily News)
FACT OR FOLLY? The Seattle Times' Larry Stone, who admits he bought into the "last year's 88-win record plus this year's addition of [Erik] Bedard equaled a championship run" notion, thinks the time of reckoning may soon be here for the stumbling Mariners.
The thin Red Sox outfield ranks became even thinner when Coco Crisp joined fellow starting outfielder J.D. Drew in the clubhouse during tonight's game.
Crisp left the game in the bottom of the sixth because of an upset stomach. That necessitated Jacoby Ellsbury, who had replaced Drew in right, moving over to center field in place of Crisp. Kevin Youkilis moved from first base to right field and Sean Casey came off the bench as a replacement for Youkilis at first.
Youkilis had played in 17 games in left field in 2006 because of injuries. Last night was his debut as a right fielder.
Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew had to leave the game in the third inning after apparently suffering an injury to his left wrist in an unsuccessful attempt to make a sliding catch of a looping fly ball hit by Freddie Bynum.
The initial word from the Sox' clubhouse was that Drew suffered a sprained left wrist. X-rays were negative.
Drew's glove appeared to stick in the grass for a split-second as he tried to scoop the ball before it hit the turf. That caused his wrist to bend back.
After being checked out by acting manager Brad Mills and trainer Paul Lessard, Drew came out of the game, replaced by Jacoby Ellsbury, who is nursing a bruise just below his left knee, the result of having been hit by a pitch Sunday night in Minnesota.
-- Bench coach Brad Mills will be taking over for manager Terry Francona, who will miss the two games in this series because of the passing of his mother-in-law.
Mills has filled in for Francona in the past, and boasts a 5-3 career record heading into tonight's game at Camden Yards against the Orioles. All of Mills' decisions came during the 2005 season.
He went 2-2 from April 6-10 when Francona missed four games because of a viral infection. He went 2-1 from April 29-May 1 when Francona was serving a three-game suspension. And when Francona's daughter graduated from high school on June 13, Mills won that game.
-- Shortstop Julio Lugo (mild concussion) continues to improve but still isn't ready to play. Alex Cora will make his third straight at short. Lugo has missed the last four games.
-- Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (left knee bruise) also continues to improve, and he could play, but the Sox have decided to keep him out of the starting lineup for at least one more game as a precaution.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: Clay Buchholz's troubles on the road, and how it makes the club's decision about Bartolo Colon easier, looking to deal Julian Tavarez and giving Craig Hansen a vote of confidence, Josh Beckett's assignment tonight in Baltimore, Alex Rodriguez's injury and the Rays' run for first place.
CLAY-MAKER: Bob Gibson was 3-6 with a 5.61 ERA in his first full season in the major leagues. Sandy Koufax was 2-4, 4.91. Greg Maddux was 6-14, 5.61. The list goes on and on, even among contemporary stars -- Josh Beckett (6-7, 4,10), Ben Sheets (11-10, 4.76), Tom Glavine (7-17, 4.56). The education of a young pitcher is like the education of anything else: In most instances, it takes time.
A no-hitter in your second major-league start is what they call an indicator of ability, but turning that ability into skill isn't an overnight process. We're told the same thing over and over -- we even said it at the very beginning of all this -- and it bears repeating: It just takes time. Ask Bob. And Sandy. And Greg.
ODD MAN OUT: Considering the haphazard way he was used all season, not to mention how poorly he pitched when he did get to the mound, it came as no surprise when word arrived yesterday afternoon that Julian Tavarez had been designated for assignment. Krasner reports Tavarez' departure means Craig Hansen gets to stay a while. Kraz also has some postgame notes, including a Julio Lugo medical update.
HEAD TO THE ROCKIES: The Denver Post reports the on-again/off-again trade discussions between the Red Sox and Colorado regarding Tavarez are on again, and a deal could be struck within a matter of days.
JINX THIS: Baseball Analysts includes Dustin Pedroia, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima in its look at 2007 rookies seeking to avoid the sophomore jinx in 2008. It has nice things to say about all of them, particularly Pedroia.
WHAT WE WORRY ABOUT: Remember all the fretting about how, between the Tokyo trip and the tough April schedule, the Sox would be lucky to be around .500 at this stage of the season? Boston.com's Eric Wilbur reminds us how silly all that was.
IT'S ALL THE SAME TO ME: In his last game with Boston, Jed Lowrie homered. Last night, in his first game with Pawtucket, he homered again. Joe McDonald tells us all about it.
CLASS AND DIGNITY, MY FOOT: The blog Bugs and Cranks takes Goose Gossage to task for admonishing Joba Chamberlain to "act like a Yankee." It points out that acting like a Yankee over the years has included the Fritz Peterson/Mike Kekich wife-swap, not to mention Reggie Jackson standing at home plate admiring his home runs, and concludes: "The Yankee way is winning. Period."
OFF THE CLIFF: The Red Sox were shut out, but Cliff Lee cleaned up, in Dayn Perry's '25 Percent Awards,' which he gives at the season's quarter pole. (foxsports.com)
'SO'S YOUR MOM'???? One of the things I learned very early in the cyberspace age is, never send anything -- and I mean anything -- via e-mail that you don't want millions of people to see. Apparently, Carlos Delgado's agent missed the memo. (nj.com)
'R, B, RBI, HIT THAT BALL AND MAKE IT FLY': The Mets' Nelson Figueroa called the Nationals "a bunch of softball girls" for the "cheerleading" they were doing in their dugout during Washington's 10-4 win at Shea Stadium last night. (New York Daily News) No word if the Nats responded by telling Figueroa they wanted a pitcher and not a glass of water.
HOME SWEET HOME: Johnnie LeMaster -- who can forget his "Johnny Disaster" nickname? -- had some great stories to tell when he returned to San Francisco as part of the Giants' 50th anniversary celebration. (The Guardian's San Francisco blog)
Shortstop Julio Lugo, who suffered a mild concussion in a baseline collision on Friday night, still isn't ready to return to action.
But manager Terry Francona said there were some encouraging signs for Lugo.
He said Lugo rode the stationary bike during Sunday night's game without any ill effects. Francona said Lugo was going to try some baseball activities today as an even stiffer test to his recovery process.
"I'd say that 'day-to-day' would be accurate," said Francona in describing Lugo's playing status. "But aren't we all?"
Boston manager Terry Francona has been mixing and matching with his starting lineup for a variety of reasons, notably injuries and a desire to keep everyone as fresh as possible over the long season.
So in tonight's lineup, Manny Ramirez (hamstring) returns to the outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury (bruised left knee) is on the bench. Julio Lugo (mild concussion) remains sidelined, so Alex Cora again is playing shortstop. And Sean Casey, activated from the disabled list today, is giving Player of the Week Kevin Youkilis a breather at first base.
Ramirez did not start Sunday but appeared as a pinch hitter, grounding out for the final out of the game. This afternoon, Ramirez was in good spirits as he rode the stationary bike in the clubhouse.
Ellsbury was hit by a pitch on the inside of his knee in the third inning Sunday night, but Francona didn't have any options but to keep him in the game.
"I walked him down all the way to first base (after he was hit) and offered him some Tylenol, but I told him there was no one behind him," said Francona.
Ellsbury didn't show any effects of the bruise in making a sensational diving catch in left field going toward the line in robbing Joe Mauer of an extra-base hit in the eighth inning.
Francona said Ellsbury could have started tonight, but with a healthy and red-hot Coco Crisp around to play in center, and with Ramirez ready to return, it made sense for him to keep Ellsbury on the bench, at least at the start of the game.
Casey has hit hit well in his career against Livan Hernandez, Minnesota's starter tonight, so he'll be at first base, which gives Francona an opportunity to rest Youkilis, a move Youkilis embraced.
"I went to him the other day and he said that would benefit him, so when he said that, it made (the move) easy," said Francona.
"It's a good day for it because playing on this turf (in the Metrodome) makes your legs a little tight, the calfs and the hamstrings," said Youkilis. "I didn't ask for the day off, but it's good for the team to have Sean get some at-bats because we're going to need him to play over the course of the season."
Francona mentioned that he'd like to give Lowell a day off, so for one of the two games in Baltimore, either tomorrow night or Wednesday, it's likely Youkilis will move to third and Casey will get another start at first.
The Sox' Kevin Youkilis was named the American League's Player of the Week for the period May 5-11.
Over that stretch, Youkilis batted .375 (12 for 32) with three doubles, five homers and 10 homers for a slugging percentage of .938. He led the league in extra-base hits and total bases for the week.
Youkilis had five multiple-hit games in the seven games for the period, with at least one extra-base hit in five of the games.
This is the first time Youkilis has been honored as a Player of the Week.
Youkilis took the award in stride.
"Things are going well so far," said Youkilis. "I've had a nice little hot streak. But I'm just trying to do the same things over and over. If you have a good week in this game you still have to put it aside and play for the day."
Youkilis has a nine-game hitting streak. Over that stretch he is batting .421 (16 for 38) with six homers, five doubles and 15 RBI, raising his average from .287 to .322.
Right-hander Julian Tavarez has been designated for assignment to make room for Sean Casey on the roster.
The Sox now have 10 days to trade Tavarez, release him or outright assign him to the minors, an assignment Tavarez can veto because of his service time. Tavarez was the forgotten man in the Boston bullpen this season, appearing in only nine games, including a 1 1/3-inning stint against the Twins on Sunday night. He was 0-1 with a 6.39 earned-run average.
The move spared Craig Hansen an option to Pawtucket. The Red Sox have been impressed by Hansen's performances in Pawtucket this season, and have seen enough good things out of him in three outings with Boston over two brief periods with the big-league club to forego the easy move -- optioning him to the PawSox.
The roster move cuts the number of Red Sox pitchers to 12, adding to a position player to the very thin bench. Casey had been on the disabled list since April 26 because of a right hip strain. Casey was hitting .346 (18 for 52) when he suffered the injury.
Boston manager Terry Francona praised Tavarez for "saving us" last year when the team needed a starter and Tavarez gave the Red Sox three solid months in the role. But Tavarez had been reduced to a mop-up man in blowouts, and Francona thought other pitchers could help in other roles to win games, so Tavarez was designated and Hansen stays.
"The way Hansen was throwing had something to do with (the move). He's pitching well," said Francona. "We have a lot of confidence in Hansen. It may not have come down to one guy (or the other), maybe more of a philosophy than one guy, but we wanted to get Hansen up here last week."
Hansen said he was sorry to see Tavarez go, and that he was a bit surprised he wasn't on his way back to Pawtucket. But he's eager to stick around and show what he can do.
"In all honesty I thought I was going to be sent down. I thought they'd just use my option," said Hansen. "I was at lunch with Manny (Delcarmen) in the hotel and I saw Julian saying good-by to everyone, so I put two and two together and figured something happened to him. That's part of the game. I can't control that.
"I just have to try to keep pitching well," said Hansen. "I'll give myself a boost of confidence if I pitch well. I feel pretty strong. All of my pitches have been working."
In past seasons, it was Tavarez who served as a spokesman for Manny Ramirez when the Sox' slugging left fielder didn't want to talk. This afternoon, Ramirez was good-naturedly bemoaning Tavarez' departure in the clubhouse.
"They got rid of Julian," said Ramirez with a twinkle in his eyes. "They didn't ask me about it. What the (heck)?"
But Bradford says that Manny was not joking when he said this:
"I think I'm the best ever to play left field in Boston."
Manny goes on in the story about the way he has revolutionized his position with his flip-throwing motion on tosses back into the infield, and he analyzes the pros and cons of playing shallow in Fenway's left field.
It all makes you wonder, in Manny's words: "How am I going to win a Gold Glove if they take me out in the eighth [inning]?"
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: The hits keep on coming
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: the relentless Red Sox offense, Kevin Cash the .375 hitter, doing it with speed and power, tonight's date with Livan Hernandez, and the still-hot Tampa Bay Rays.
NOT GROUNDED FOR LONG: They don't go down easy, these Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury looked as if his night might be finished when he was hit in the knee by a pitch in the third inning (above), but he stayed in the game, scored a run by sprinting home on a sacrifice fly, and later made a running catch in right-center field. He was sort of a symbol of his team, which found itself on the short end of 5-0, 7-1 and 9-6 scores at various points during the evening and still came this close to pulling out an improbable win over the Twins. There was no Mother's Day Miracle this time, however, as pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez grounded out with the tying run in scoring position. Steven Krasner has the details of what Terry Francona called "as exciting a game [as] you can have and not win."
ERUDITE EMPIRE: That's what Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is calling the Red Sox, whom he admires for their skill and their intelligence. Souhan says the Sox are "a super power . . . [who have] surpassed the Yankees as the dominant franchise in baseball."
(He also makes a Chuck Knoblauch/Dustin Pedroia comparison that, I have to admit, occured to me at some point last night while Pedroia was fouling off Nick Blackburn pitch after Nick Blackburn pitch.)
CRISP AND EFFICIENT: He still wants to play every day, and he knows that -- when everyone's healthy -- it's probably not going to happen here. But for now, reports Cafardo, Coco Crisp is "going with the flow" . . . and the Sox are reaping the benefits.
NEXT! Bartolo Colon may soon hop onto the well-traveled Pawtucket-to-Boston shuttle. He pitched well Saturday night in his first appearance since suffering an oblique strain in April and Joe McDonald reports the Sox will be faced with a perplexing decision. To wit: We can assume Colon isn't going to accept an extended stay at Pawtucket, especially with so many teams -- such as the one 160 miles to the south -- in need of starting pitching. So whenever the new opt-out day in his contract arrives, the Sox will either have to promote him or let him go. And if they let him go, they'll know they rehabbed him and nursed him back to health so he could pitch against them for somebody else . . . like the Yankees.
If all that sounds to you as if One Ben Mondor Way will -- barring unexpected injury to someone else in the rotation -- be the summer address for Clay Buchholz, I'd say you've got good ears.
THE RULE: Having read the book, I can say I totally agree with Chad Finn's glowing review of Red Sox Rule by Michael Holley. (I also agree with his criticisms of Patriot Reign, for the exact reasons he states.) Holley talks about the Sox book with the Boston Globe.
ENOUGH, ALREADY: It's one thing for opponents to be irritated by Joba Chamberlain's pumping and screaming and dancing. But now Goose Gossage is telling him to knock it off and act like a Yankee. (Bergen Record)
JUST TRYIN' TO CAPTURE THE SPIRIT OF THE THING: It isn't often that a newspaper reporter will start a story with the letters "P.U.", but the New York Post's George King did in describing Kei Igawa's performance Friday night in Detroit. (New York Post)
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE . . . The Reds and Mariners have spent the better part of a week denying there's anything to these Ken Griffey Jr.-back-to-Seattle reports, but the Dayton Daily News' Hal McCoy reports the M's "desperately" want him back and have sent one of their executives to check him out. Pinto says that while Griffey would be an improvement over Seattle's current crop of DHs he's not nearly the player he used to be, and wonders why they wouldn't simply sign Barry Bonds instead.
-- The Red Sox are batting .336 with 33 doubles, 16 home runs and 70 runs scored over their last 10 games. They have scored at least five runs in each of those games and have a record of 7-3 over that stretch.
But they have had trouble hitting with men in scoring position in this series. The Red Sox are a combined 9 for 40 (.225) with RISP in the three games.
-- Hitting coach Dave Magadan was trying to get a hit for Coco Crisp on his grounder off pitcher Joe Nathan that resulted in an out on the sliding J.D. Drew at third base in the dramatic ninth inning last night. Magadan claimed, correctly, that there was no way Nathan could have thrown out Crisp on the play.
Magadan wasn't successful in his postgame mission, though. The rule states that if a ball stays in the infield and a baserunner is thrown out trying to advance a base, a fielder's choice, not a base hit, has to be ruled even if the hitter would have beaten any play on him at first base.
-- The two homers by the Twins in the second off Tim Wakefield accounted not only for the first time Minnesota had hit two round-trippers in one inning, but also, amazingly, the first time the Twins had gone deep twice in one game. Minnesota entered the game dead last in the majors with 17 homers. The last time they hit two in an inning was on Aug. 24, 2007. They added a third homer later in the game.
-- Sox reliever Mike Timlin made his 1,023rd appearance, snapping a tie with Jose Mesa and Lee Smith and moving into 8th place on the all-time list.
Alex Cora returned to the roster Sunday, activated from the disabled list.
The utility infielder went 3 for 4 Sunday night in a start at shortstop against the Twins. The performance actually lowered his batting average from 1.000 (3 for 3) to .857. He has been on base in eight of his nine trips to the plate.
Cora bounced out to the pitcher in his first at-bat, but then grounded a single up the middle, roped a double off the fence in right and slapped a single to left in his other three plate appearances against the Twins.
Kevin Youkilis will receive strong consideration for the Player of the Week Award for the period of May 5-11.
The Red Sox first baseman went 2 for 5 with an RBI in last night's 9-8 loss to the Twins, finishing the week batting .375 (12 for 32). But it won't be just his batting average that will make him a contender for the award. It will be the power he displayed.
Youkilis had three doubles five homers and knocked in 10 runs over the seven games.
Overall, Youkilis extended his hitting streak to nine games. He is batting .395 (15 for 38) with 11 runs scored, five doubles, six homers and 15 RBI over that period. The surge has boosted his average from .287 to .322.
PawSox manager Ron Johnson informed left-handed pitcher Abe Alvarez after Sunday's game in Pawtucket that he was being released. Alvarez was working out following PawSox' victory over Norfolk when he was called into the manager's office.
Originally selected by the Red Sox in the second round (49th overall) in the 2003 draft, Alvarez was 2-1 with a 6.46 ERA this season as a relief pitcher. The 25-year-old has been in the organization for six seasons and the one-time prospect has struggled the last few seasons.
The southpaw was originally a starter before he was moved to the bullpen after the All-Star break in 2007.
He was almost traded to the Colorado Rockies two years ago, but the deal fell through in the 11th hour. Ever since, it was obvious Alvarez wasn't happy and his performance showed that.
Embattled shortstop Julio Lugo is out of the lineup again tonight, a bit less dizzy but still able to return to the lineup.
Lugo suffered a mild concussion in a baseline collision during Friday night's game. Manager Terry Francona said Lugo was administered a CT scan, and while it didn't show anything major, Francona was told by the trainers that that didn't mean he hadn't suffered a mild concussion.
"His eyes were glassy looking, glazed over (on Saturday)," said Francona of Lugo. "He's a little better (today), a little clearer in the eyes."
When Lugo returns will be a question of when he feels better and when the medical staff clears him to play, said Francona.
Manny Ramirez is not in the starting lineup tonight because of a tight right hamstring.
The Sox' left fielder felt the hamstring tighten up on him when he hustled down the first-base line and beat the back end of a potential inning-ending double play, keeping alive a Red Sox rally.
Manager Terry Francona said that in watching the play develop he thought he saw Ramirez tighten up a little as he got to the bag and past it. But it wasn't until Ramirez called him early today that he knew Ramirez wouldn't be able to start.
So Jacoby Ellsbury will move to left field in an outfield that also will include Coco Crisp in center and J.D. Drew in right. Ramirez is getting treatment on his leg.
Ramirez is in a bit of a slump. Over his last 13 games Ramirez is batting a mere .176 (9 for 51), dropping his overall average from what was then a league-leading .370 to .301. He has only one homer, one double and four RBI over that stretch.
Alex Cora (elbow) has been activated from the disabled list and is in the starting lineup for tonight's game against the Twins.
Cora will be playing shortstop in place of Julio Lugo, who has a mild concussion, suffered in a baseline collision during Friday night's game.
To make room for Cora, the Sox optioned rookie infielder Jed Lowrie to Pawtucket.
Lowrie at least went back to the minors with a smile on his face and a memento in his pocket. Lowrie went 3 for 4 on Saturday night, including his first major league homer. Called up on April 10 when Mike Lowell was placed on the DL, Lowrie batted .310 in 42 at-bats spread over 17 games.
First baseman Sean Casey (hip) also is eligible to be activated from the disabled list today, but the Sox are holding off on that move. The Sox have 13 pitches and are likely to option Craig Hansen back to Pawtucket to make room for Casey but they may need the extra pitcher tonight because Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon have been used a lot lately and manager Terry Francona said he wants to stay away from them tonight.
"You're never in a real hurry to lose pitching," said Francona. "You have to do things in a manner that makes sense. We talked to Casey to make sure he knew what we were doing."
The Red Sox traded reliever Bryan Corey to the pitching-starved San Diego Padres for a player to be named and cash considerations.
Corey had two stints with Boston, twice being designated for assignment and ultimately re-signed to a Pawtucket contract. Corey was 0-0 with a 10.50 earned-run average in seven appearances totaling six innings for Boston. The right-hander was with the PawSox when the trade was announced.
Boston manager Terry Francona, who championed Corey when he had the opportunity, was happy to see he's back in the big leagues.
"It was tough for him. He was the odd man out here. Now he's in the big leagues. Good for him. You don't want to lose pitching, but you want the best for guys like that. This is a good day for him," said Francona.
Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon was sitting at his locker in the PawSox' clubhouse this morning as if he never left McCoy Stadium after his solid three-inning outing on Saturday night.
The veteran right-hander allowed one run on four hits with no walks and two strikeouts against the Norfolk Tides after being activated from the disabled list with an oblique injury. He threw 49 pitches (36 strikes).
Colon will start for the PawSox again on May 15 at Buffalo. He's slated to work 4 or 5 innings with a pitch count of 75.
Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon didn't want to talk about his outing for the PawSox tonight, but rehabbing Red Sox players Alex Cora and Sean Casey were quite impressed with the right-hander's three-inning performance.
Colon allowed one run on four hits with no walks and two strikeouts. He threw 49 pitches (36 strikes).
"He had great movement," said Cora, who went 0-for-3 in his final game in Pawtucket. "I was really impressed with him. He had good arm speed and made some good pitches. His ball was really really moving. I know he's going to make a difference and really help us out. I don't know how soon, but I'll tell you what, he's going to help this team win a world championship."
"He looked great," said Casey, who went 1-for-2, including a double and two runs scored. "He'll be a big plus if he can continue to do that stuff. He's Bartolo Colon, a former Cy Young Award winner. He's got great stuff. When I looked up and he was throwing 97 and 95, that's going to play in the big leagues."
Colon made quick work of the Tides in the third inning, retiring the side in order. He threw just nine pitches (seven strikes). Colon has thrown a total of 49 pitches (36 strikes). He was scheduled for 55.
Defensively, Cora made a play at short, but threw a one-hopper to first, which Casey was able pick out of the dirt.
**Red Sox infielder Alex Cora (elbow) and Sean Casey (hip) will play Game One of tonight's doubleheader against Norfolk. Cora will play shortstop and Casey will play first base. After the game the two will rejoin their Boston teammates in Minnesota.
Cora spent about 15 minutes during BP this afternoon signing autographs for the young fans here. It was pretty impressive. Casey also spent some time signing after he was done hitting.
**Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon (oblique) will start for the PawSox tonight. The right-hander is expected to throw 55 pitches.
-- J.D. Drew is being given the night off from the starting lineup, partially because manager Terry Francona wants to make sure everyone gets a day here and there, and also because the Twins are starting a left-hander, Glen Perkins.
This gives Francona an opportunity to have his two outfield speedsters -- Jacoby Ellsbury and Coco Crisp -- both in the lineup. Ellsbury is playing right, with Crisp, a switch hitter, in center.
Drew is hitting .319 (6 for 19) on the trip, but has only one extra-base hit (a double) and one RBI. He also has fanned seven times in the last four games.
-- Curt Schilling played catch again today from 60 feet, or maybe a few feet longer with some throws. He said he made roughly 40 throws and will do the same on Monday.
-- Two roster moves will be made tomorrow. Alex Cora and Sean Casey are expected to come off the disabled list and join the Red Sox for tomorrow night's game at the Metrodome. Jed Lowrie and Craig Hansen would seem to be the most likely roster casualties because they have options. If Lugo has a more serious concussion than is originally thought, that could change the nature of the transactions.
Error-prone shortstop Julio Lugo has been scratched from the starting lineup because he may be suffering from a mild concussion.
Lugo was struck on the side of the head by the knee of Minnesota second baseman Matt Tolbert on a forceout in the sixth inning of Friday night's game.
The throw from Twins third baseman Mike Lamb to second base was high to the first-base side of the bag, forcing Tolbert to go up for it. Tolbert caught the ball for the out, but as Lugo slid into the base, Tolbert's knee made contact with Lugo's head.
Lugo was a bit dizzy, but managed to stay in the game. He woke up dizzy this morning, was scratched from the starting lineup and sent for some tests. Neither Lugo nor manager Terry Francona thought it was anything serious, but they wanted to check it out.
Rookie Jed Lowrie will start at shortstop tonight in place of Lugo, who committed his major-league-leading 11th error Friday night, leading to a pair of unearned runs in the Twins' 7-6 victory.
TWINS 7, RED SOX 6: Papelbon blows second consecutive save chance as Sox fall in ninth
By STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jonathan Papelbon sat slumped in his chair in front of his locker, his head in his hands.
That, of course, is not how the Boston Red Sox and their fans are used to seeing their supposedly dominant, invincible closer. They're used to seeing him pump his fist, raise his hands in the air and slaps fives with his teammates on the field after closing out another win.
Unfortunately, Papelbon has been less dominant lately. Indeed, the right-hander has blown his last two saves, including one last night as Boston suffered a stunning 7-6 setback to the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.
Only two nights earlier, Papelbon was stung for a checked-swing single, an error on a soft roller, a bunt, a groundout and finally a two-out broken-bat RBI single by Placido Polanco, coughing up two runs in the ninth in a 10-9 loss to the Tigers.
Last night the culprit was veteran Mike Lamb, who dunked a two-out, two-run opposite-field single over third and inside the line that turned a come-from-behind Boston win into a depressing defeat. The hit for Lamb, who entered the game in the sixth inning because Brendan Harris had to leave (tight hamstring), scored Delmon Young from third and speedster Carlos Gomez from second.
"The last one was one of those things. This one tonight was a totally different story. There was no correlation at all to the other one," said Papelbon after sorting out his thoughts and talking to the media about 20 minutes after Lamb's hit dropped softly onto the turf.
"Tonight I didn't execute a pitch when I had one out to get. It's that simple," said Papelbon, who had successfully racked up saves in each of his first 10 chances before faltering on this road trip.
"It's frustrating as hell right now. The simple fact is I'm making good pitches but I'm not finishing them off all the way through the strike zone. I was in a comfortable position with one out to get. I didn't get a split-finger where I wanted it. I don't have the sharpness I usually have," said Papelbon.
Of course, it's not that simple. Papelbon has been a flame-thrower, a strikeout machine in his career. Over his first seven appearances of this season, for instance, Papelbon punched out 16 batters in only 8 innings.
But of the last 25 batters he has faced, Papelbon has only one strikeout. That's right, just one.
Papelbon wasn't as clear in his description of what "finishing his pitches" means, but pitching coach John Farrell shed some light on the issue.
"He went through a stretch early where he was so dominant with such good command of his fastball and great location," said Farrell. "Right now, I'm not going to say he's off, but he's not in that same groove. He's not as dominant as he was during that stretch."
And that is a mechanical problem, suggested Farrell.
"He's a little spread out with the lower half of his body at times just a hair," said Farrell. "That doesn't give him a downhill plane for his split so it doesn't have the bottoming out action. It's not every pitch, but it happened (on the pitch to Lamb) and it cost him two runs."
So now Papelbon has blown saves in back-to-back chances for only the second time in his career. The other time was Aug. 6 (at Tampa Bay) and Aug. 9 (at Kansas City), 2006. It also marks the first time in his career he has been tagged with losses in back-to-back relief outings.
That doesn't mean Farrell or Papelbon feel there is a crisis of confidence brewing.
"Pap has always been pretty good about when things don't go the way he or we planned to be able to go out the next time he pitches and forget about the time before," said Farrell.
"I just have to go back on the mound and get back my confidence. I mean, it's not an issue of confidence, but I have to go back out there the next time and approach hitters the way I get hitters out and finish my pitches the way I can," said Papelbon.
The finish of the game was in many was in keeping with how most of the rest of it was played. There was some ugly baseball on both sides from throws to the wrong bases, errors, plays not being made that should have been made.
But the Sox did have a 6-5 lead into the ninth, thanks to a four-run fifth-inning surge that overcame a 5-2 deficit and put Jon Lester (5 1/3 innings, 8 hits, 5 earned runs) in position for a win. Mike Lowell ripped a two-run double off starter Boof Bonser, Kevin Youkilis chased home the tying run with a groundout and the go-ahead run scored on a wild pitch from reliever Juan Rincon.
The Sox, though, wasted some chances to pad their lead, ultimately stranding 11 baserunners.
Still, thanks to two great innings from Hideki Okajima, the win was three outs away. They only got two.
Young opened the inning with a ground-ball single of the middle, went to second on a bunt and stole third after Adam Everett fouled out. Gomez drew a walk (his 4th in 131 plate appearances) and then was allowed to steal second without a throw, his 15th steal of the season, putting the winning run in scoring position.
Why not hold him closer?
"There were three different reasons -- who's running, who's pitching, giving up a hole (in the infield defense)," said Boston manager Terry Francona.
Francona said the only chance to throw out Gomez would have been for Papelbon to use the slide-step, and he didn't want Papelbon doing that for fear it would hinder his stuff and location.
"You're never happy giving up the lead run but considering everything, the biggest thing was we didn't want to vacate a position," said Francona.
Instead, Papelbon was left with a vacant look in his eyes, having blown the save on Lamb's hit.
"You can't defense that hit," sighed Francona. "He's a professional hitter and he got enough of the bat on the ball and hit it where nobody was."
TWINS 7, RED SOX 6: Postgame notes on Lester, Lugo and Okajima
BY STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jon Lester, as has been his disturbing custom, threw a lot of pitches in the early going Friday night.
It took him 57 pitches to get through the first two innings. Not all of it was his fault; a throw to the wrong base by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury led to extra pitches in the first and Julio Lugo's ugly error in the second cost him some more pitches.
But he settled down, found his rhythm and lasted 5 1/3 innings (94 pitches) before manager Terry Francona lifted him. Lester allowed eight hits, but walked only one. Of the five runs he gave up, only three were earned.
"I thought I threw the ball well," said Lester. "They had some broken-bat hits and some balls found holes. There's not a lot you can do about that. You just try to minimize the damage. You have to keep pounding the strike zone and hope they hit the ball at people."
Lester almost got hurt on a play that was scary from the start.
Justin Morneau shattered his bat on a pitch in the third inning. The barrel of the bat started flying toward Lester before veering off more toward second base on the infield grass. A piece of wood that floated past Lester to the third-base side caused him to duck his head and put up his arms in a reaction to the wood-flying chaos, even though he never was in danger of being struck.
Once Lester realized he'd be all right, he raced over to cover first base because when Morneau made contact, the ball bounced to first baseman Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis fed a throw to Lester, who arrived at the bag a split-second before Morneau, who tried the head-first slide.
As Lester landed on the bag, he slightly turned his right ankle. He hopped on his left foot for a couple of steps as he passed the bag and then went down to the dirt. After a few seconds, with Francona and trainer Paul Lessard checking him out, Lester got up and walked to the mound.
After taking a couple of warmup tosses, he assured them he was fine and he stayed in the game.
"I stepped on the bag wrong, but it shouldn't be a concern at all," said Lester.
* * *
Embattled shortstop Julio Lugo, who has voiced displeasure with what he views as the media harping on the negative, provided a little more ammunition along those lines Friday night.
Lugo misplayed a routine bouncer right at him in the second inning, a two-out error that paved the way to a pair of unearned runs and a 4-2 Minnesota lead.
It was Lugo's major-league-leading 11th error and fourth in the his last eight starts. Manager Terry Francona, though, said he didn't talk to Lugo about the errors and didn't seem to indicate that Lugo might need a few "mental health" days.
* * *
Hideki Okajima was very quietly efficient against the Twins.
The left-hander retired all six batters he faced, setting them down on a total of 15 pitches, in establishing a sense of order to the Red Sox' pitching, which was spotty Friday night against the Twins.
Okajima needed only six pitches to work a spotless seventh and then in the eighth, his devastating changeup produced a full-count whiff of Minnesota cleanup hitter Justin Morneau leading off the inning. The rest was easy -- two pitches in fact -- for a groundout and a foulout.
The outing lowered his earned-run average to 0.53.
A shipment of pink baseball bats arrived in the Sox' clubhouse and will be used Sunday for the Mother's Day game in an effort to foster awareness of breast cancer and the need for more research to combat the disease.
Manny Ramirez seemed especially excited to receive his pink bats. They will nicely complement the new reddish/pink baseball glove he unwrapped at his locker.
Alex Cora (elbow) was due to play in his last rehab game for the PawSox today, and Sean Casey (hip) was slated to play in his next-to-last one, but rain foiled that plan.
So with a doubleheader scheduled tomorrow in Pawtucket, Boston manager Terry Francona said this afternoon they would each play in the first game for the PawSox and rejoin the Red Sox in Minnesota in time for Sunday night's game.
Once they arrive, a couple of roster moves will have to be made. Rookie Jed Lowrie would seem to be the logical candidate to be dropped to Pawtucket when Cora is added. And, with the Red Sox having 13 pitchers instead of their normal complement of 12, a reliever is likely to be at risk. Craig Hansen has options, so unless something more dramatic is done to make room for Casey, it's possible he could be returning to Pawtucket.
Bartolo Colon (oblique), meanwhile, will continue working his way back to Boston by starting tomorrow's first game for the PawSox. He is expected to pitch the first three innings.
Farnsworth's suspension for throwing at Manny reduced
NEW YORK (AP) — Kyle Farnsworth’s suspension was cut from three games to one Friday by Major League Baseball following an appeal by the New York Yankees reliever.
Bob Watson, baseball’s vice president in charge of discipline, announced the original penalty April 19, two days after Farnsworth threw a fastball behind the neck of Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez. Farnsworth wasn’t ejected and said the ball slipped.
John McHale Jr., executive vice president for administration in the commissioner’s office, heard Farnsworth’s appeal Tuesday.
Farnsworth was to serve the suspension Friday, baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: That hot-starting Youkilis
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: Kevin Youkilis' hot start -- can he make it last? -- Josh Beckett's steady improvement, Manny Ramirez's quest for 500 home runs -- and is 600 a realistic goal? -- and the Minnesota Twins, who are hanging in there despite the loss of Johan Santana and Torii Hunter.
HIT MAKER: We'd love for him to reflect in depth what he thinks about all this, but apparently he left his blog-updating equipment in Tokyo. So while Kevin Youkilis talks about his offensive emergence at the postgame-interview-soundbite level, others explain it all for us:
-- Our own Steven Krasner marvels that Youkilis can hit, and produce, almost anywhere in the lineup . . . a Terry Francona luxury that virtually no other manager enjoys. Last night it was the cleanup spot; placed there when Manny Ramirez was given the day off, Youkilis hit his fourth home run in five games, a two-run shot in the fifth inning that led the Red Sox to a 5-1 win over the Tigers.
-- The Boston Globe's Gordon Edes wonders if we're not seeing a Youkilis transformation from on-base machine to power hitter.
Youkilis is well-known for his demonstrative outbursts -- a reader of the blog Shysterball caught his NSFW blast last week -- but now he's becoming known for his baseball skills, as well. The Twins blog Twinkie Town, previewing the upcoming Sox' weekend series in Minneapolis, waxes poetic -- kind of -- about Youk and says its one wish would be for Youkilis to be hitting behind Joe Mauer. (It might have happened, too. Remember those 2005 trade rumors that had Youkilis and Anibal Sanchez going to Minnesota for J.C. Romero? That would have been one for the ages, eh?) And he's one of the reasons Dan Lamothe at Red Sox Monster thinks everything's beginning to fall in place for the Sox.
TOP OF THE HEAP: The Detroit Free Press' Michael Rosenberg agrees. In the midst of a lament about the state of the Tigers, he calls the Red Sox the best team in baseball.
LONGEVITY AWARD: Josh Beckett pitched seven strong innings last night and recorded his 1,000th career strikeout along the way. Krasner reports Beckett, while pleased, wasn't overly excited about the milestone. ("It means you've been around for a while . . . ") That was the top item of a notebook that included bits on an obstruction play involving Dustin Pedroia and Tigers shortstop Rafael Santiago, Ramirez' rest day, Curt Schilling's second game of catch, and other game notes. Beckett's performance is looked at in more detail by the Globe's Amalie Benjamin and the Herald's Rob Bradford.
OH, DO I REMEMBER: The obstruction play with Pedroia -- in which the Sox argued, to no avail, that Pedroia should be allowed to score; instead, he was only awarded third base -- reminded Francona of the 2003 ALDS. To wit: Red Sox third baseman Bill Mueller got in the way of the A's Miguel Tejada, which gave Tejada third base, but Tejada mistakenly thought he was entitled to the next base, as well; he sauntered home and was tagged out. "It's why I'm here," Francona told Ballou.
Translation: Francona was the A's bench coach at the time and Oakland lost the series in no small part to that play. Not sure I quite follow the reasoning -- the Sox' managerial job opened because they lost the ALCS to the Yankees, not because they beat the A's in the ALDS, and the Oakland staff didn't get fired after losing to the Sox -- but it sounds good.
EDGE, ELLSBURY: While the team record in games they start is nearly identical, the Sox score a startingly higher number of runs in games when Jacoby Ellsbury starts in center field (6.4) than when Coco Crisp starts (3.8). (Boston Globe)
WATCH THIS: If you watched last night's game on NESN, you heard Jerry Remy talk at length about stolen-base attempts -- specifically, an attempt by Ellsbury -- being determined by the time of the pitcher's delivery to the plate. The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro breaks down that strategy from the Diamondbacks' point of view . . . and Arizona, remember, is run by former Theo Epstein assistant Josh Byrnes.
SYMPATHY FOR THE . . . ALL RIGHT, WE WON'T CALL HIM THE DEVIL: The blog Shysterballempathizes with Julio Lugo, failing to see why reporters needed to question him about his crucial error Wednesday night. "[Lugo] basically just screwed up. He knows it. The reporters know it. The fans know it. What else is there to add on a primary source reporting basis?"
CLIMBING BACK UP THE LADDER: In more minor-league news, Benjamin's weekly notebook begins with an item on Daniel Bard, who's rebounding from a disappointing 2007. And Michael Bowden pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-hit ball Wednesday night at Portland. (rotoworld.com)
DANGER ZONE: The sight of Placido Polanco's bat shattering as he looped the game-winning hit into left field Wednesday night is all-too-familiar these days; maple, which is becoming the wood of choice for many players, has a tendency to splinter. Yahoo.com's Jeff Passan notes that the flying shards are extremely dangerous -- Pirates coach Don Long was hit in the face with one a few weeks ago and suffered nerve damage -- and, comparing it to the foul ball that killed base coach Mike Coolbaugh last year, says "neither Major League Baseball nor the MLB Players Association can afford to wait for another tragedy when it could take preventative measures. Were officials from either party to meet with Long . . . they would understand the issue must be resolved immediately."
In Wednesday night's game, Jacoby Ellsbury led off the seventh inning with a single.
The Red Sox were trailing, 8-5. The general rule of thumb in such a situation is to play it safe and not risk running into an out.
But Ellsbury didn't play it safe. He took off for second, even though Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, one of the best ever at throwing out base-stealers, was behind the plate. Ellsbury was safe by a relatively close margin, stealing the base because of his speed and the fact that the Tigers pitcher, Zach Miner, was slow to the plate, as timed by first-base coach Luis Alicea.
The Sox really didn't see it as a gamble. The stolen base was Ellsbury's second of the game and 13th of the season, running his string to 22 in a row without being caught at the start of his career. Boston eventually scored three runs in the inning, on a homer by Mike Lowell, pulling even at that stage.
"If the numbers don't add up, it's hard to do it," said Francona, referring to Miner's time to the plate.
"Pudge made a phenomenal throw, but with the numbers, why not (send him)? He made the good throw but didn't get him. If something like that helps us win a game we're going to do it."
Besides, while Ellsbury's career still is in its formative stages, Francona has seen enough to know that the rookie outfielder knows how to run the bases.
"He's only got two months in the major leagues, but he is a good basestealer," said Francona. "He does a good job. he's not just fast. I do think he's pretty smart, too. He's confident."
Ellsbury didn't see the danger of taking off even though the Sox were down three runs late in the game with the big boppers coming up.
"It's a situation where if I think I can make it I'll go," said Ellsbury. "Maybe we can stay out of the double play. That way David (Ortiz) and Manny (Ramirez) are coming up with runners in scoring position."
Tim Raines has the major league record for most successful steals at the start of a career -- 27.
Curt Schilling (right shoulder) played catch from 60 feet this afternoon, again making 25 tosses as he did on Tuesday, the first time he was cleared to throw a baseball this spring.
Schilling will perform various strengthening drills tomorrow and will play catch from 60 feet yet another time on Saturday before he is evaluated to see if he can progress to a more intense throwing workload.
His return to the mound, though, still is a long way off.
There's nothing wrong with him physically, said manager Terry Francona a short time ago. Just a rest. Jacoby Ellsbury is shifting over to left field from center with Coco Crisp starting in center.
Ramirez has started 35 of the Sox' first 36 games. He has been in a bit of a slump lately, though. Ramirez, who got off to a torrid start that had him leading the American League in batting average at .370 on April 25, has batted a mere .195 (8 for 41) since, dropping his average down to a still very respectable .316.
He hasn't been especially productive over his last 16 games, either. Ramirez has only one homer and four RBI in his last 60 at-bats. He did hit a homer in this series, though. It was his seventh of the year and the 497th of his career.
To say Brandon Moss is a gamer would be a huge understatement. The Red Sox outfielder, who had an emergency appendectomy last Saturday night, has already begun his rehab. He’s been at McCoy the last two days working on his cardio, which has included running and riding the stationary bike. He will leave for Fort Myers on Saturday to participate in extended spring training, and if everything goes well, he should be able to play in a rehab game for the PawSox on May 18.
The Pawtucket Red Sox earned an even split of their four-game home series with the Durham Bulls by winning 3-2, today at McCoy Stadium.
Rehabbing Sean Casey was 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and a run scored, while Alex Cora, also on a rehab assignment, was 1 for 4 with a single and a run scored.
David Pauley (3-2) pitched six innings for the win, striking out five and walking one while surrendering both Durham runs in the sixth. Bryan Corey picked up the save by striking out two batters in a perfect ninth inning.
Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey (hip sprain) and infielder Alex Cora (elbow strain) are playing for the PawSox this afternoon as both continue their rehab assignments.
Cora, who went 2-for-4 in his first appearance on Wednesday, is batting second and will play second base again today against the Durham Bulls. He will play shortstop on Friday and will rejoin the Red Sox this weekend. He said this morning that he's 100 percent. He grounded out in his first at-bat.
Casey is serving as the PawSox' DH today and will play first base on Friday. He singled in his first at-bat.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: a tough, tough way to lose a game, Julio Lugo's channeling of Edgar Renteria, whether there's a market for Julian Tavarez, and the struggles of tonight's Tigers starter, Justin Verlander.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports today that David Sanborn, a Red Sox fan from Oceanside, Calif., has been ordered to pay about $25,000 for his role in a bar fight in 2006 with Mario Melendez, a Yankee fan. Melendez sued for damages because he injured his hand when he punched Sanborn (Melendez said the punch was in self-defense). No criminal charges were filed in the incident, but a Superior Court jury on Tuesday awarded Melendez $15,297 for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering; and $10,000 in additional punitive damages.
Sanborn, a Massachusetts native, claimed that Melendez challenged him to a fight and then sucker-punched him.
NOW HERE'S SOMETHING YOU DON'T SEE EVERY DAY . . . and the fact is, you shouldn't have seen it last night, either. But that rarest of baseball sightings -- a Jonathan Papelbon blown save -- was built on this house of cards: A check-swing, excuse-me, didn't-mean-to-hit-it roller into no-man's land between the pitcher's mound and shortstop that went for an infield hit; an error by Julio Lugo (above); a bunt; an infield grounder that delivered the tying run; and a shattered-bat dying quail that looped into short left field just out of the reach of the leaping Lugo. Paplebon was seen flinging his glove and kicking over Gatorade buckets in the dugout upon its conclusion, but Steven Krasner reports he was downright philosophical as he discussed the Red Sox' 10-9 loss to the Tigers last night, a defeat that stung all the more because it wasted Boston comebacks from deficits of 4-0, 5-2 and 8-4. Such losses usually demand a scapegoat -- especially around here -- and last night's wasn't hard to find: Lugo, whose error was the key play in the inning (and who now has 10 in 33 games). Terry Francona defended his shortstop (Boston Globe), but the inevitable line of media questioning, which included resurrection of his three-error game in Toronto last month, prompted a why-are-things-so-negative-in-Boston? outburst from Lugo himself. To which the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley commented: "This is a guy who has said on numerous occasions that during his days with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays he thought it would be cool to play for the Red Sox. Then again, maybe he really didn’t know what he was getting into."
And what was he getting into? A place where 10 errors in 33 games, including a crucial ninth-inning flub that leads directly to a frustrating loss despite having your all-but-invincible closer on the mound, don't go unnoticed.
STARTING OVER: The string of strong performances from Red Sox starting pitchers was broken by Clay Buchholz, who allowed 10 hits and 5 runs before being yanked after four innings. Krasner has the details in his postgame notebook, which includes items on the strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play executed by the Sox that ended the eighth inning, Dustin Pedroia's pinch-hit single in the eighth that gave Boston a 9-8 lead, and an interesting night for Kevin Youkilis.
CHANCE FOR SECONDS: Krasner's pregame notebook leads with the reason Pedroia was available for pinch-hitting duties: Jed Lowrie was given the start at second base last night. Kraz also makes note of a pretty obscure record set Tuesday night by Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin, and details on the Mother's Day Walk In The Park at Fenway.
SOME MISTAKES YOU JUST KEEP PAYING FOR: Sometime between pregame workouts, when Alex Rodriguez was the picture of optimism, and the end of last night's game, the decision was made that A-Rod needs another MRI, which means he probably won't be ready to return when he's eligible to come off the DL. (New York Daily News) The Post's Joel Sherman says it's all a result of the Yanks rushing him back too soon when he first suffered the injury, a miscalculation the Yankees admit.
THE RIGHT STUFF: In light of all that's happened to Clemens, Foxsports.com's Tracy Ringolsby thinks Mark McGwire's disappear-into-the-ether strategy looks pretty good.
MAKE IT, HURT: Partly as a lifetime achievement award and partly because he was the only major-leaguer to voluntarily cooperate with the Mitchell investigation, the blog Big League Stew is starting a campaign to get Frank Thomas named to the A.L. All-Star team.
SHIFT IN POWER: When I was growing up, the National League was far and away superior to the American League. Nowadays -- as starkly evidenced hereabouts by the Red Sox' last two World Series appearances -- the opposite is true. But David Pinto, writing for sportingnews.com, writes that the N.L. is actually outscoring the A.L. so far this year and that, with its influx of young talent, it may soon be No. 1 again.
THE GLASS IS HALF FULL: Barry Zito didn't win, but he didn't pitch badly in his return to the Giants' starting rotation. (San Jose Mercury News)
YOUR TURN NOW: On Monday, a USA Today story sparked Ken Griffey Jr.-back-to-Seattle speculation. On Tuesday, the Reds threw cold water over the reports. Yesterday, the Mariners did the same. (Seattle Times)
PASSAGES: Pat Santarone, the long-time Orioles groundskeeper who planted tomatoes in the bullpen every year in a competition with his friend Earl Weaver as to who had the best plants, has died at age 79. (Baltimore Sun)
Red Sox infielder Alex Cora (elbow strain) just finished his first of three rehab games for the PawSox against the Durham Bulls.
Prior to the game Cora said he's healthy and ready to play. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored. He's hit second in the PawSox' lineup and played second base. He posted only one assist in the field, a 6-5-4-6 run down.
Red Sox infielder Alex Cora (elbow strain) is scheduled to play three rehab games for the PawSox, beginning tonight against the Durham Bulls.
Prior to the game Cora said he's healthy and ready to play. He's batting second in the PawSox' lineup and playing second. He's already 1-for-1 with a single and run scored in the first inning.
PawSox manager Ron Johnson sat in his office at McCoy Stadium this afternoon and recalled the first time he saw Cora play.
It was in 1997 when Cora, in only his second professional season in the Dodgers organization, was playing for Double-A San Antonio and Johnson was managing in Wichita (Kansas City Royals).
“He was the same kind of player back then,” said Johnson. “He was always doing the right thing at the right time of the game. You would look at him and from physical skills you’d be like ‘well. . .’ but, God, this guy knew how to play the game. You can see why he’s got 10 years in the big leagues and why he’ll probably be a big-league manager.”
The Red Sox will host a Mother's Day Walk in the Park at Fenway Park on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Admission to the park is free. Fans can benefit the Red Sox Foundation by purchasing $10 tickets for the 2008 Ring Raffle. A total of nine Red Sox fans will receive genuine World Series rings and a 10th winner will receive a Volvo C30 Red Sox Special Edition car.
The 2004 and 2007 World Series Championship trophies will be on display from 11-1 during the Walk in the Park . Fans will be able to have their pictures taken with the trophy. Former Red Sox players, Wally the Green Monster and mascots Lefty and Righty also will be on hand. Food and beverages will be on sale.
When Tim Wakefield (41 years, 278 days) and Mike Timlin (42 years, 57 days) combined on a shutout Tuesday night against the Tigers, it marked the first time since 1900, when such records were kept, that a team has tossed a shutout using multiple pitchers over the age of 40.
That nugget came from research done by the Elias Sports Bureau after the Sox' 5-0 triumph over the Tigers.
Dustin Pedroia is being given tonight off from the starting lineup, with rookie Jed Lowrie replacing him at second base and in the number two hole in the batting order, rain permitting.
Pedroia is the only member of the Sox to have played in all 35 games. Manager Terry Francona figured tonight would be a good day to give him a rest.
"I' ve thought about it before, but it seems like every time I want to do it he gets three hits," said Francona.
"But he looked last night like it would be a good night to give him a blow," said Francona of Pedroia, who went 0 for 5 and bobbled a routine ground ball for his second error of the season in Tuesday night's game.
Lowrie, meanwhile, is likely headed back to Pawtucket when the rehab assignment of utility infielder Alex Cora (sprained right elbow) comes to an end. Cora is scheduled to play three games for the PawSox, beginning tonight, so if he makes it through those three games without a mishap, he could be joining the Sox in Minneapolis over the weekend.
Lowrie, who was called up from Pawtucket on April 10, has been solid in his first taste of the big leagues, especially after having had only a little more than a week of Triple A experience. Lowrie, who has played shortstop, second and third for Boston, was batting .286 (10 for 35) in his first month in the majors heading into tonight's game.
"We all know he's a really good prospect. He has done a really good job for us. In fairness to his career, not to him, he needs to make sure he plays every day and develops. Playing every day is important to his career. He has not even had a lot of time at Triple A," said Francona of Lowrie, 24, the 45th pick overall in the 2005 draft.
Steve Krasner just told us that the weather is not so good out in Detroit, where the Red Sox and the Tigers are set to play the third game of their four-game series. The forecast calls for windy and rainy conditions most of the night, including possible thundershowers, before clearing sets in later in the evening. We'll see how this affects the start of the game.
Wakefield and Timlin set a new standard for 40-somethings
According to the Red Sox game notes, last night's combined shutout by Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin marked the first time in major-league history that a team pitched a combined shutout using only pitchers older than 40. Wakefield is 41; Timlin is 42. Both pitchers were born in 1966, as was Curt Schilling, who is working his way back from the disabled list.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: The old guys can still throw
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: the combined shutout by 41-year-old Tim Wakefield and 42-year-old Mike Timlin; the first throwing session of the year for 41-year-old Curt Schilling; Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz becoming a force in the middle again; and the MLB Players Association's investigation of the owners' failure for not finding a job for Barry Bonds.
ON THE FLIP SIDE OF THE COIN . . . Jim Leyland exploded at the Tigers when they were floundering a few weeks ago. But now that they're floundering again, he's taking a different tack. (Detroit Free Press)
FABULOUS FREDDY: Joe Posnanski, who has consistently come out against Jim Rice's Hall of Fame candidacy, makes the case for Fred Lynn being enshrined. (joeposnanski.com)
JOBA TO THE MAX: SI.com's Tom Verducci says the Diamondbacks may have the new Joba Chamberlain -- he's already old?? -- in Max Scherzer.
MINOR MIRACLE: Down on the farm, Ian Kennedy transformed himself back into the prospect the Yankees think he is with 7 1/3 one-hit, shutout innings in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's win over Charlotte. (New York Daily News)
NO 42 MEDIUM: MLB has retired Jackie Robinson's No. 42 in honor of the player who broke baseball's color line, but SI.com's Bryan Armen says the best player in history to wear the number is Mariano Rivera.
'DADDY DEAREST': That's the New York Post headline over its story on Koby Clemens, who stands by his embattled father and says his family remains strong and united in spite of all the recent negative press.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE: Suzyn Waldman, who was a target herself last year after her over-the-top reaction to Clemens' re-signing with the Yankees, says the only thing that surprises her about this year's Clemens Saga "is the glee with which people are going after Roger." (Newsday)
-- Bartolo Colon (oblique), who threw 19 pitches in an extended spring game and then another 16 pitches in the bullpen on Monday, reported to the Sox today. He'll throw another side session in a day or so with the Sox and then will be sent out for his rehab assignment to Pawtucket.
-- Manager Terry Francona will be managing the All-Star Game in New York on July 14, his second such assignment, thanks to Boston's American League pennants in 2004 and 2007. While it's too early to talk about specific players and how the process of picking players will play out this year, Francona said he's trying to find a way to get all of his coaching staff, including strength and conditioning coach David Page and performance enhancement coach Don Kalkstein, to the game in official capacities as a reward for their efforts to the team's success.
-- Julian Tavarez is the forgotten man in the Red Sox bullpen. He hasn't pitched in 11 days, since a one-inning outing at home against the Angels on April 24. He has been mentioned in Colorado as a reliever the Rockies might be interested in. Francona said today he needs to get him in a game soon. The manager was referring to scraping the rust off the right-hander's arm, but if the Sox are looking to move him, Tavarez would need to pitch to show other teams what he can do.
In preparation for his rehab assignment in Pawtucket, which will begin Wednesday night, Alex Cora went through a workout early today at Comerica Park.
The reason for his early workout was that he had secured some tickets for tonight's Celts-Cavaliers playoff game in Boston.
Manager Terry Francona was not the least bit upset that Cora flew home early today and was not with the club for tonight's game against the Tigers. In fact, Francona, a big fan of the Celtics and coach Doc Rivers, said he encouraged the utility infielder to go.
"I told him he was crazy not to take off (early)," said Francona with a smile this afternoon. "He goes with my blessing. The only thing I'm mad about is I'm not with him (at the game)."
Alex Cora (sore right elbow) and Sean Casey (hip strain) will be heading to Pawtucket this week for what they hope will be brief rehab assignments.
Cora is expected to join the PawSox for games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Casey will be reporting in time for games Thursday and Friday.
The plan for Cora is to have him play a position, either second or short, Wednesday night, serve as the designated hitter for Thursday's 12:05 game and then play a position, either second or short, in Friday night's game.
Casey, meanwhile, will start at first base for the day game on Thursday and serve as the designated hitter Friday night.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: Daisuke Matsuzaka's inability to control his pitches, Craig Hansen's inability so far to seize the opportunity handed to him, Mike Lowell's first RBIs of the season, and the inconsistency of the Detroit Tigers.
Curt Schilling made 25 tosses from a distance of 60 feet from 1:43 to 1:49 this afternoon at Comerica Park, the first time he has thrown a baseball this spring as he continues to rehabilitate his right shoulder.
The session went well. He will repeat the workout on Thursday.
"He did good. I don't think anybody was expecting him to not feel okay or we wouldn't have sent him out there," said manager Terry Francona.
"It's a good step for him. I'm sure he's excited. I think his throwing will help rejuvenate him for the things he has to do," said Francona, referring to the monotonous nature of the rehabilitation to get to the point to where he could play catch.
The plan is for him to keep playing catch until the medical staff thinks he's ready to progress to a more aggressive throwing program from longer distances.
Schilling was not around to talk about his workout.
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: The numbers -- or at least most of them -- scream "ace." Record: 5-0, the second-highest number of wins in the league. ERA: 2.43, fourth-best in league. Batting average allowed: .158, second-best in the league. (All this, incidentally, is courtesy of the invaluable Projo Stats.) Daisuke Matsuzaka (above), by most measurable accounts, should be considered one of the best pitchers in the American League, indeed in all baseball.
Except . . .
Steven Krasner, writing the story of last night's 6-3 Red Sox win over the Tigers, lays out the case against Matsuzaka in eight simple words: Ball one. Ball two. Ball three. Ball four. He does not throw strikes, at least not with any consistency, and too many games resemble the water-dripping-on-the-forehead torturefest of last evening. By the time Terry Francona took us all out of our misery and lifted him after five excruciating innings, Matsuzaka had taken nearly two hours to throw 109 pitches, walk eight batters, and escape disaster through a combination of his admittedly superior skills (he allowed only one hit in those five innings), clutch pitching (a two-on, one-out strikeout of the sublime Magglio Ordonez in the fourth), and some luck (hard-hit balls that were caught, such as the two-out, two-on liner snared by J.D. Drew for the final out in the fifth, preserving a 4-1 lead). His performance was put into some historical perspective by Chuck Waseleski via the Boston Globe's Extra Bases blog.
Francona, noting that Matsuzaka was still suffering the aftereffects of last week's bout with the flu, chose the glass-is-half-full approach -- as he nearly always does -- in his postgame comments, lauding Matsuzaka's heart and competitive spirit. (Maybe Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press captured that dichotomy perfectly when he noted that, through three innings, Matsuzaka was on pace "for the never-seen 210-pitch no-hitter.") In the Boston Herald, Rob Bradford pointed out that while Matsuzaka often pitched like this last season, this time around he's winning these games.
Baseball -- especially professional baseball -- is a bottom-line business, and there's more than something to be said for someone who wins mosts of his starts, style points be damned. The problem, as articulated by Baseball Musings' David Pinto, is that Matsuzaka is a strange hybrid "of being wild, but at the same time very tough to hit." The troubling question: At what point will it become more important that he's wild than it is that he's tough to hit?
NEVER MIND: Remember when news of Curt Schilling's arm woes first surfaced in February? And how his personal physician, Dr. Craig Morgan, stated that "the percentage of [Schilling] being able to pitch effectively [without undergoing Morgan-recommended surgery] is probably between zero and five percent"? And the whispers that Schilling, while never saying so publicly, agreed with Morgan and was angry with the Red Sox for forcing him to undergo more conservative treatment? Well, Schilling is about ready to start throwing again and now he's saying the Red Sox were right all along. (Boston Globe)
BEEN THERE: The Sox will miss the struggling Jason Verlander in this series, and ex-Tiger Jack Morris, now working part-time as a Twins broadcaster, says he knows why Verlander is struggling: "His shoulder. There's something wrong with his shoulder." (Detroit News) Morris had bursitis in his own shoulder and thinks Verlander, based on the way he's throwing, is suffering from the same pain.
REUNITED: The paths of Joe Torre and Willie Randolph, who spent so many years together in the Yankee dugout, are passing again this week at Dodger Stadium. Yahoo.com's Tim Brown reports that they're in different places . . . and not just geographically. Speaking of geography, things have gotten so bad at Shea Stadium -- Mets fans can't get past last September -- that Randolph says the team prefers to be on the road. (New York Post)
YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU GOT 'TIL IT'S GONE: The New York Observer's Howard Megdal says current Mets whipping boy Oliver Perez is a lot more valuable than he's being credit for and his "loss would be staggering" if the teams allows him to hit free agency.
TONED DOWN: Ozzie Guillen was less profane, but no less passionate, as he pleaded with White Sox fans to be patient with his team. (Chicago Tribune)
NEVER ENDS, DOES IT? But just as the controversy over Guillen's foul-mouthed tirade had subsided, word comes that the White Sox were doing nasty things to some blowup dolls in their Toronto clubhouse Sunday in a light-hearted attempt to break their slump. For this, Guillen offers no apologies. "One hundred percent of the people in the clubhouse are 18 years old, and that's a private thing," he told the Chicago Sun Times. "If the players do it in the dugout where everyone can see or in the hotel lobby -- we did it in our clubhouse, and a lot of things happen in the clubhouse."
"Leaky" Lugo: His defense at short is still lacking
Julio Lugo has never been known for playing solid defense at shortstop.
This year, he has sprung a bigger leak than usual on the left side. On Sunday he was charged with his ninth error of the season in only his 30th game. Many of his errors have been on poor throws, but he bobbled a ball Sunday.
Manager Terry Francona said he and the coaching staff have to remind Lugo to remain aggressive on defense, even if his error total is ugly. Francona traces some of Lugo's defensive anxieties to his three-error game in Toronto on April 6, which put him in a fielding-percentage hole.
"I think lately he has played more aggressively, making plays in the hole, planting his foot (to make a strong throw)," said Francona. "When he gets his chest out and is all over the field and is fearless, that's the guy we want. We just remind him of that."
Leyland promises "Drastic Lineup Changes" for Detroit
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, frustrated by the Tigers' lack of consistent offense from a lineup that would seemingly be one of the best in the game from top to bottom, vowed "drastic changes" for Monday's game against the Red Sox.
But the veteran skipper didn't alter his lineup too much, his hands partially tied because it's not as if he has a lot of different bodies to plug into his veteran lineup. So he dropped Gary Sheffield to sixth in the order and Edgar Renteria to eighth, with Ivan Rodriguez all the way down to the number nine slot.
The Tigers also designated outfielder Jacques Jones for assignment and called up Matt Joyce from the minors. He will either play right field or serve as the designated hitter, with Magglio Ordonez filling the position that Joyce doesn't.
The potentially potent Detroit offense is fourth in the league in runs scored with 158 -- only four behind the league-leading Sox. But they have tallied at least four runs in an inning 10 times, accounting for roughly one-third of their total number of runs, making them pretty much a feast-or-famine offense.
The Tigers were limited to two runs in the first two games of a three-game sweep in Minnesota over the weekend, and then, after scoring six runs in the first inning Sunday, Detroit failed to score again and lost, 7-6.
The Sox on Sunday promoted Craig Hansen from Pawtucket to replace outfielder Brandon Moss(appendectomy), and it sounds as if manager Terry Francona is looking forward to seeing the rejuvenated right-hander pitch.
In what may be a related, developing situation, right-hander Manny Delcarmen has continued to struggle in his role as the bridge between the starting pitcher and the dynamic duo out of the bullpen in the late innings, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon.
Hansen, the number 26 pick overall in the 2005 draft, struggled in the big leagues in 2006 and spent all of last season in Pawtucket, struggling there as well. This season, Hansen seems to have re-discovered the groove that made him such a high pick.
He was 1-0 with a 1.62 earned-run average and 17 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings for the PawSox, allowing runs in only one of his appearances. Hansen had a one-day stay in Boston two weeks ago and was the losing pitcher on April 23, surrendering a homer in his 1 2/3-inning stint.
"We probably rushed him," said Francona of Hansen's troubles early in the big leagues after a sterling career for St. John's.
"We saw him last year throwing changeups on 3-and-2 pitch. He's a guy who throws hard and has a nasty slider. He has gotten back to pitching like it's 'me against you, let's go. If you beat me, you beat me.' The results have been very good. This is a great way to get him up here and see what he can do. It could be (he'll be up) 10 days or 10 years. This is a chance to watch him pitch," said Francona.
If Hansen pitches well, he might push Delcarmen for the late inning setup spot. Delcarmen has been faltering badly. He has been scored upon in five of his last six outings, and in his only scoreless appearance, he gave up a hit and a walk in one-third of an inning.
Delcarmen hasn't been able to work himself out of his funk because in his role, Francona can't have a lot of patience. Delcarmen generally enters games with the Sox ahead, and is backed up by Okajima, so at the first sign of trouble, Francona is lifting Delcarmen and calling for Okajima.
"(Delcarmen) just hasn't been consistent enough with his pitches and is paying the price," said Francona.
David Ortiz, who was scratched from Sunday's game because of a sore right knee, is back in the starting lineup tonight.
But manager Terry Francona said that the Sox will be keeping their eye on their slugging designated hitter, not wanting to push him too much too soon and risk losing him for a long stretch of time.
Francona said the cold weather hasn't helped Ortiz' case of tendinitis. He said the Sox weren't sure when they got to Comerica Park today whether he'd be able to play, but after Francona talked to him, he put Ortiz in his customary three hole in the batting order.
"We have to look at the broad, big picture and not run him into the ground," said Francona.
Bartolo Colon had a brief but successful rehab outing this afternoon for the Sox' extended spring team against the Orioles' extended spring team in Florida.
Colon, who has been sidelined because of a strained oblique, threw 19 pitches in two innings, walking one and fanning one. He did not allow a run. Then he went and threw 16 more pitches in the bullpen, bringing his total up to where the Red Sox wanted it to be. Manager Terry Francona said the report he received had Colon touching 93 m.p.h. on the radar gun.
The right-hander is expected to join the Red Sox in Detroit before heading to Pawtucket to continue his rehab assignment. The plan now is for Colon to pitch for the PawSox Saturday night at McCoy Stadium at Norfolk.
NASHUA, N.H. (AP) -- A woman accused of running down a man in her car after a Red Sox-Yankees argument in a bar never hit her brakes as she accelerated toward the small group he was in, a prosecutor said today.
"She never braked, and she accelerated at a high speed for about 200 feet. She went directly at this group of people," prosecutor Susan Morrell said of Ivonne Hernandez, who is charged with reckless second-degree murder in the death early Friday of Matthew Beaudoin, 29.
Authorities won't describe the argument beforehand in Slade's Food & Spirits, but witnesses said it heated up when Hernandez identified herself as a New York Yankees fan. Like the rest of New Hampshire, Nashua, 45 miles northwest of Boston, is Red Sox country.
Bartender Tanya Moran said the argument spilled outside, and at least one person in a group that included Beaudoin began chanting "Yankees suck!" when they saw a Yankees sticker on Hernandez's car.
Hernandez, 43, allegedly gunned her car and struck Beaudoin and his friend Maria Hughes, 21. Hughes had only minor injuries, which Beaudoin's sister Faith said was because her brother shielded his friend.
Hernandez, of Nashua, was arrested at the scene. She acknowledged she had been drinking and refused to take a breath-alcohol test, said Morrell, a senior assistant attorney general. Hernandez said she had been in an argument with the group.
"She indicated to police that she wanted to scare this group of people. She thought they would get out of the way," Morrell said.
Hernandez was ordered held without bail after being arraigned toay in Nashua District Court. The charges, including aggravated drunken driving, are felonies, so Hernandez could not enter a plea.
Her public defender, James Quay, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Beaudoin died of massive head trauma at a hospital, Morrell said.
Moran told The Telegraph of Nashua during the weekend that Beaudoin came to the bar regularly to socialize, sing karaoke and have fun.
"He came to hang out. He didn't really drink much," she said.
Chris Lovett, a disc jockey at Slade's, told the New Hampshire Union Leader that Beaudoin kept to himself and "wasn't an instigator."
Faith Beaudoin said her brother, who lived in Nashua, was a 1997 graduate of Nashua High School who worked dealing poker at Sharky's in Manchester and Nashua. She said his organs, including his heart, live and kidneys, were donated in hopes of saving other people's lives.
"He was always helping people when he was alive, and he's still saving lives," she said, choking back tears during the weekend.
YOU'RE RIDIN' HIGH IN APRIL, SHOT DOWN IN MAY: Ol' Blue Eyes could have been singing right to the Rays, whose sweep of the Red Sox at the Trop during the last weekend in April is yesterday's news after the Sox (above) returned the favor -- in far more convincing fashion -- at Fenway over the first weekend in May. It started with a rain-delayed 7-3 win Friday night that didn't end until 12:48 a.m, continued with a 12-4 thumping Saturday night that made a winner of Josh Beckett, and concluded with yesterday's 7-3 series wrapup behind more strong pitching from Jon Lester. (All stories projo.com.) That's a 26-10 runs differential, compared to the 10-5 combined scores that the Rays posted in their three wins in St. Petersburg. If a similarity strikes you -- the 10 runs scored by the Rays in both series -- you're right; the difference in the two weekends is that the Sox bats, silenced in the heat of central Florida, came alive in the cold and drizzle of the Northeast. Steven Krasner noted the offensive explosion in his Inside The Game feature Sunday, and it continued yesterday.
The Sox' fans, accustomed to far greater success than the long-suffering Rays followers, reacted a lot more sedately than the Tampa Bay crowds; no brooms, no gloating, no talk of redemption. (Even our old friend Steve Silva, who can be hilarilously over-the-top in times like these, kept it toned down.) As for the Rays themselves, they took the three losses in stride, saying in both the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune that, in the words of manager Joe Maddon, they didn't see the weekend "being devastating to this group at all." Probably not; the Rays, in the words of Baseball Prospectus, are "swimming in prodigious young talent these days" and the long-term future is very bright. But the blog Shysterball thinks that, for this year anyway, "I have this feeling [the Rays] won't be getting much closer" to the Sox than the three games they trail by as we speak.
WELL-ARMED: Lost in the fireworks provided by the bats is the shutdown pitching of the Sox' starters, extending back well beyond this series. Sean McAdam takes a closer look at it all and some of the numbers are astounding: An overall 2.69 ERA for the starting pitchers (including emergency callups David Pauley and Justin Masterson) and a 1.92 ERA in the last eight games. Curt Schilling agrees with McAdam. (38pitches.com)
NOT SO WELL-ARMED: Good thing the starters are going go well, because -- as Sean notes -- the bullpen, save for Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima, hasn't been nearly as reliable as the rotation. McAdam specifically mentions the struggles of Manny Delcarmen at the end of the column, which leads us to . . .
ANOTHER CHANCE: The recall of Craig Hansen, reported today in the notebook by McAdam and Paul Kenyon. His roster spot is that of Brandon Moss, who underwent an emergency appendectomy Saturday night and was reported yesterday to be comfortable and recovering. (projo.com) But the job Hansen may take is Delcarmen's. If you click back to the earlier McAdam column, you'll see where Sean notes the Sox are looking for an effective bridge to the Okajima/Papelbon tandem -- opponents are hitting .500 off Mike Timlin and Delcarmen has been scored upon in 9 of his 16 appearances this year, including 5 of his last 6 -- and Hansen will probably get a real shot to fill that role. On a transcript of his ESPN Radio appearance on the Hacks With Haggs blog, Peter Gammons says the Angels were raving about Hansen after he pitched against them two weeks ago.
The notebook also contains items on David Ortiz' ailing knee, the emergence of the stolen base as a Red Sox offensive weapon (who'da thunk?) and the continuing offensive struggles of Mike Lowell.
THE REAL MONSTER: Speaking of Papelbon -- which we were, a few steps back -- the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has a nice feature on the Sox' closer, whose dominance is sparking memories (among those, like me, old enough to rememeber) of Dick Radatz.
TOUGH TALK: He's a players' manager through and through, which means any problems he needs to address will be taken care of out of the public eye. Every so often, though, Terry Francona will send a message to his players via the media . . . and that's what he seemed to be doing Friday night, when he talked about the "responsibility" of playing through minor aches and pains. Krasner related his comments, which appeared to be aimed at J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury; coincidentally or not, both were soon back in the lineup.
CROSSFIRE: Willie Randolph is becoming a polarizing figure in Mets Nation. Some, like Tim Marchman of the New York Sun, think he should go; others, like the blog Mets Today, disagree. It's my experience that once a manager gets to this point in the public arena, his departure is only a matter of time.
CINCO DE MAYO: He actually wrote it on May 2, but what better day to highlight Chad Finn's Random Lists of Five, which includes the five Red Sox players he hated the most (and all of whom played for "the reprehensible 2001 team"). I also enjoyed the Five True Yankees Of The New Millennium. (www.boston.com/sports/touching_all_the_bases)
ADIOS, JULIO: Finn also has a love letter to Julio Franco, who finally hung them up -- at age 49 -- this weekend, but who "very likely [is] still a couple of years younger than Miguel Tejada."
WHAT ABOUT THEM? Ozzie Guillen wonders -- in the purplest language imaginable -- why the White Sox, who won the World Series in 2005, are so criticized in Chicago while the Cubs, who haven't won in 100 years, get a pass. (Chicago Tribune)
PACK YOUR BAGS THEN, SORI: Lou Piniella compares Alfonso Soriano to Bobby Bonds. (Chicago Tribune)
WHADDYA WORRIED ABOUT? Stop fretting about the Rockies' 12-19 record. The Denver Post's Woody Paige points out that it's only one game off last year's 13-18 mark at this point, and the Rox made it to the World Series in '07. So I guess those 20 wins in 21 games at the end of last season is something we can expect every year, then.
TURNAROUND IS FAIR PLAY: The Miami Herald notes the off-center characters in the Marlins' bullpen aren't spooked by opposing fans. In fact, it's the other way around.
BOSTON -- About 20 minutes before gametime, the Red Sox announced that David Ortiz was scratched from the lineup because of tightness in his right knee.
Ortiz, you may recall, missed two games last weekend in Tampa against the Rays after he experienced soreness and swelling following a head-first dive into first base in the first game of the series at Tropicana Field.
Ortiz returned to the lineup Tuesday when the Sox began their homestand and had been 8-for-20 with a homer and four RBI in the last five games.
With Ortiz out, the Sox have a new lineup.
Jacoby Ellsbury LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Manny Ramriez LF
Mike Lowell 3B
Jason Varitek C
J.D. Drew RF
Coco Crisp CF
Not even a Red Sox player is exempt from the desire to get patients in and out of hospitals as quickly as possible these days.
Brandon Moss is the case in point. The Red Sox outfielder was taken to the hospital last night for an appendectomy. He complained of feeling ill about an hour before the game began, was examined and taken to the hospital. Sox officials reported about 11:15 p.m. that he was out of surgery and doing well.
Now, he is about to be released from the hospital.
``He’ll be out of the hospital in about an hour, which is unbelievable to me,’’ Sox manager Terry Francona reported at about 10:30 a.m. ``He’s doing OK.’’
The plan was to have Moss brought to his apartment to let him rest there.
``From there we’re still trying to sort out what’s in his best interests,’’ Francona said. ``We’ll probably let him to go home for 10 days or so.’’
Moss, who is from Georgia, likely will be sent to Florida when he regains his health. He will do some rehab work there before being activated.
The current plan, Francona said, is to delay a decision on replacing Moss on the roster, at least for today. The Sox pitching situation is excellent after Josh Beckett’s eight-inning performance Saturday night. The only concern is being shorthanded in the outfield.
``We’d like to get through today and see where we stand,’’ Francona said. ``We just don’t want to get in a situation where we call somebody up, something happens and we have to option somebody. I think we’re better off waiting until the end of the day.’’
For the time being, Julio Lugo is the emergency outfielder.
We already have a promise for the day. Terry Francona just had his pre-game meeting with the media and he promised there would be a game today. It is raining now and looks and feels miserable. But the manager obviously has been told the weather will clear.
He did not guarantee it would clear soon enough to begin on time. He just said there would be a game.
Secondly, a note on pre-game activities. As mentioned, it is raining. It is very wet. As we speak, workers are going through the park hosing down the seats. It just seems weird to see a crew out spraying water in the rain. Obviously, they are doing some cleaning. It just looks out of place…
Here are the lineups:
BOSTON – Familiarity, apparently, breeds a bunch of base hits and runs for the Red Sox’ offense. Or maybe it was just a case of being comfortable at home.
Last weekend on the road, Boston was effectively shut down by a pair of Tampa Bay right-handers, Edwin Jackson and James Shields. That trend was loudly reversed this weekend at Fenway Park.
Jackson permitted only one run on five hits over seven innings in a 2-1 Rays win last Saturday. Shields was even better the following day, blanking the Red Sox on two hits in a complete-game 3-0 victory. Shields fanned seven.
So Boston’s hitters took their lumps on the road against the duo. In Fenway, it was the opposite. The Tampa Bay pitchers who were pummeled as the Red Sox hitters, having seen Jackson and Shields a week earlier, made adjustments that were highly effective.
Friday night, Boston’s offense battered Jackson for six runs on nine hits in only four-plus innings in a 7-3 triumph. Last night, Shields gave up more hits to the first three batters of the game than he had in his nine-inning, 99-pitch performance at Tropicana Field.
Indeed, the first four Red Sox batters hit safely – Jacoby Ellsbury (single), Dustin Pedroia (single), David Ortiz (RBI double) and Manny Ramirez (two-run single) – accounting for a quick 3-0 lead. Over his 3 2/3-inning stint, Shields coughed up 10 hits and 7 Runs, allowing at least one run in each inning. He threw 98 pitches, one fewer than in his complete-game win.
Of course, the same familiarity-breeds-hits theory might have been applied to the Rays against Josh Beckett, at least early.
Last Sunday, Beckett whiffed 13 Rays and gave up only four hits and one earned run in seven innings. Last night, over the first four innings, Beckett was touched up for three runs on five hits and had punched out only two.
After limiting the damage in a fourth-inning jam to one run, though, Beckett retired 12 of the final 14 batters, surrendering only one more run, on a homer by Akinori Iwamura in the eighth.
The Red Sox have been the beneficiaries of a pair of do-overs this week.
And they have made great use of them.
Last night, with runners at second and third and none out in the first, Ramirez hit a chopper up the third-base line. Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria charged the ball instead of hanging back and seeing if it would roll foul. Longoria gloved the ball and threw on the run to first, his throw beating Ramirez for what looked to be the first out of the inning as a run scored.
Plate umpire Bill Welke, though, ruled Longoria had snatched the ball in foul territory. So the out didn’t count, the runners went back to their respective bases and Ramirez got back in the batter’s box. He then grounded Shields’ next pitch up the middle for a two-run single.
On Thursday night, Coco Crisp was handed a second chance when his game-ending fly ball to right was negated by a balk by Toronto’s B.J. Ryan. Crisp drilled the next pitch he saw for a single to right.
Shields was charged with a wild pitch in the second, but Ellsbury deserved the assist on the play.
Ellsbury, who was 9-for-9 in stolen-base attempts, was on first with one out. Shields’ 1-and-1 pitch to Pedroia was a changeup in the dirt. As catcher Dioner Navarro moved a half-step to his right to block it, he took his eye off the ball to glance at Ellsbury, checking to see if he was on the move. Ellsbury had taken his secondary lead, but had stopped.
The ball clanged off Navarro’s foot and bounced away, allowing Ellsbury to ease into second base. He scored when Pedroia dunked Shields’ next pitch over first baseman Carlos Pena.
A half-step in the wrong direction likely cost Tampa Bay a run in the fourth.
The Rays had one run in, the bases loaded and one out and were trailing by only 5-3 when Nathan Haynes laced a liner to Ramirez in left field.
Pena, the runner at third, took a half-step toward home when Haynes made contact. Realizing the ball was going to be caught by Ramirez, Pena retraced his steps back to third so he could tag up. His momentum was going back to the bag as Ramirez made the grab.
Pena tagged quickly and tried to get his momentum shifted to the plate as Ramirez made his throw home. The throw was accurate and easily beat Pena, who was a dead duck at the plate for the rally-killing double play.
Had Pena headed back to third on contact, he would have had a better chance of scoring.
Tampa Bay’s Akinori Iwamura gave away his offensive plan in the third.
On the 1-and-0 pitch from Josh Beckett, Iwamura prepared to bunt for a base hit but pulled the bat back as the ball sailed up and away. Third baseman Mike Lowell, already in on the grass, moved in another step, on full alert.
So when Iwamura dropped down a bunt – and it was a good one -- on the 2-and-1 pitch, Lowell was in great position to make a play. He charged the ball, barehanded it and fired to first in one motion, his throw beating Iwamura by a half-step.
Alex Cora, who has been sidelined since April 10 because of a sore right elbow, stepped up his on-field workouts today.
The utility infielder turned double play, both as a shortstop and second baseman, with Dustin Pedroia feeding him the ball so Cora could work on throwing to first base. Cora appeared to be able to perform the double-play pivot without any elbow issues hampering him. His throws to first had good zip on them.
Manager Terry Francona said the possibility of Cora going on a rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues is being talked about by the Sox and Cora.
"I don't think that's something he's real fond of," said Francona of Cora. "We include the player in the discussions but we try to do whatever is in everybody's best interests."
J.D. Drew, who left Tuesday's game because of a tight left quadriceps, is back in the lineup tonight.
Drew missed three games, replaced by Brandon Moss, who went 2 for 4, including a homer, and also threw out a runner at home plate in Friday night's game. Drew said this afternoon that he listened to his body in explaining why he took himself out of the game last Tuesday, not wanting to risk suffering a more serious injury.
"You have to understand your limitations. I've played long enough to know mine," said Drew, who has been criticized for being a "soft" player in his 10 years in the big leagues.
"There are things I have to be wary of, especially when the weather is what it will be tonight," said Drew, referring to the bone-chillingly cold day at Fenway Park.
Playing in such conditions is not pleasurable to any player.
"You have to try to stay loose. You want to be as warm in the dugout as you can. You just have to do what you're trained to do (on the field) and not focus on external factors," said Drew.
BOSTON -- A long night at Fenway turned out to be well worth it for the Red Sox.
The Sox, led by their young hitters, broke out of their offensive slump and beat Tampa Bay, 7-3. The game ended at 12:48 a.m. Saturday morning after beginning two hours and 27 late because of a persistent rain.
Boston’s young players, most notably Brandon Moss, didn't mind staying up so late.
Moss started a five-run Sox fourth inning with a drive into the bleachers in center for his second home run, added a hit and scored a run with a nice slide on a close play in the eighth, and threw a runner out from right to keep the game scoreless in the second.
Dustin Pedroia added three hits, scored once and drove in three, and Jacoby Ellsbury had a hit and two walks, scored one and drove in one as the Sox had 13 hits and a total of 18 base runners.
Another of the kids, Clay Buchholz, got the victory. He struggled a bit with his control (four walks), but allowed only one run in 5 1/3 innings. Even with a four-run lead, Jonathan Papelbon closed it out after Javy Lopez, Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima protected the lead.
"We needed it,'' Terry Francona said of the victory over a team that had swept the Sox in Florida last weekend.
Tampa is the young team on the rise, but it was Boston’s recent Pawtucket graduates who were the stars. Moss was the biggest on offense.
"I think you can tell we have no qualms about playing him. He does a good job,'' Francona said of Moss, who started in right with J.D. Drew still out because of a quad problem.
Moss was asked what part of it he most enjoyed.
"The home run,'' he responded. "But it always feels good to play good defense and help the team out.’’
His defense kept the game scoreless in the second inning. Gabe Gross was on second when Jason Bartlett lined a single to right.
"I was playing Bartlett in a bit. It got to me on one hop,'' Moss noted. "When I got it [Gross] was rounding third, so I had time to set my feet. As soon as I let it go I knew it was a good throw. I was just hoping he didn’t beat it.’’
The Sox took the lead with a run in the third when Julio Lugo doubled and Pedroia doubled him home.
The offense really got going in the fourth and it was Moss who sparked it. With two outs and no one on -- Boston already was leading 1-0 thanks to a two-out RBI double by Pedroia in the third -- he crushed a 2-and-0 pitch from Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson to the bleachers in dead center.
"There were [other] balls hit to center that didn’t go anywhere,'' Francona said. "He was all over that ball.'' The shot landed on top of the canvas that protects the camera in center.
That opened the floodgates. Jason Varitek singled, Lugo walked and Ellsbury singled to center, scoring Varitek and sending Lugo to third. With Pedroia at the plate, Ellsbury took off and easily stole second, his ninth of the year and 18th straight in his career -- he has never been thrown out.
Both runners came home when Pedroia singled to left. Pedroia took second on the throw home and scored on a single by David Ortiz, making it 6-0. The five third-inning runs were more than the Sox had scored in their last five games combined.
Tampa Bay got as close as 6-3, but the Sox put it away in the bottom of the eighth when Moss singled and came all the way around on a drive off the top of the wall in left-center by Varitek.
Buchholz did the rest.
"I thought his stuff was phenomenal," Francona said. "His command at times got him into a couple jams but he had the stuff to pitch out of it.''
While he was happy with the victory, Buchholz feels he has to improve his control.
"I hate walking people,'' said Buchholz, who walked the first two hitters in the second before Moss made his big defensive play. "That usually kills you . . .
"It comes down to making them swing and make contact instead of being too fine with my pitches."
He is a young player getting better, as are Moss and Ellsbury and Pedroia, the others who helped the Sox move back into sole possession of first place.
Late Friday -- or is that early Saturday? -- Sox notes
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- Quick notes from last night's Red Sox win over Tampa Bay:
-- The seven runs scored by the Sox were their most since April 22, spanning eight games. Before Friday night, they had scored two runs or fewer in each of the previous five games.
-- The five-run fourth matched their total for the previous 53 innings combined.
-- In getting the win, Clay Buchholz became the first Sox starter since April 21 to claim a victory. Over the last six games, Sox starters have a 1.49 ERA.
-- Exlcuding a poor start against the Yankees in New York, Buchholz has a 2.08 ERA this season. In 56 2/3 major-league innings, Buchholz has 55 strikeouts and has struck out five or more hitters in 7 of his first 10 major-league appearances.
-- The Sox are 12-2 this season when Jacoby Ellsbury scores at least one run.
-- Ellsbury added another stolen base, making him successful in all 18 tries in his major-league career, a team record for a rookie.
-- Dustin Pedroia broke out of a slump with a three-hit night. He had been 1-for-20 in the last five games. His run-scoring double in the third was his first extra-base hit in the last eight games.
-- Of Brandon Moss' 13 career hits in the big leagues, five have been for extra bases.
-- For the second time this season, Moss has an assist and a homer in the same game. He also did so March 25, the season opener, in Tokyo. Before Moss, the last Red Sox rookie outfielder to have an assist and a homer in the same game was Trot Nixon, who did so June 1, 1999.
BOSTON – A spark can come from the unlikeliest of sources.
It did last night for the Boston Red Sox, in the form of a lightning bolt off the bat of rookie Brandon Moss that lit the team’s slumping offensive pilot light.
Moss crushed a solo homer to center, a towering drive off the roof of the camera perch just to the right of the 379-foot marker.
The blast off Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson, with two outs and none on in the fourth, gave the Sox a 2-0 lead over the Rays.
And just like that, the Red Sox’ week-long slump vanished.
By the time Jackson notched the final out the inning, the Red Sox were on top, 6-0, as Boston rained hits all around Fenway Park.
Jason Varitek ripped a single to center. After a walk to Julio Lugo, Jacoby Ellsbury dropped an RBI single into left-center; Dustin Pedroia ripped a two-run single to left and David Ortiz bashed a run-scoring single through the Rays’ shift.
Slump? What slump?
Boston starter Clay Buchholz had difficult locating his fastball, especially early. Of the first 24 fastballs he threw, only 9 were strikes, including two that were smacked for singles.
So when his lack of command of the pitch got him into trouble in the third inning, pitching coach John Farrell strolled to the mound. It was clear that Farrell discussed a change in pitching philosophy against the Rays because after the visit, Buchholz and catcher Jason Varitek stayed away from the fastball.
The result? Three straight strikeouts, defusing a first-and-second, none-out jam.
Buchholz threw 13 pitches after Farrell’s visit. Only three were fastballs.
The first batter he faced, Jonny Gomes, fanned on three pitches – slider (called), changeup (swinging), curveball (waving wildly). Carlos Pena was next. The sequence of pitches to him was curveball (ball), changeup (strike swinging), fastball (strike swinging), curve (foul), fastball (foul) and curve (called strike three).
Evan Longoria followed Pena. By then it must have been clear to him that Buchholz had abandoned his fastball. With the count at 1 and 2 -- (called strike), curveball (foul), slider (ball) – Longoria appeared stunned when Buchholz delivered a 93 m.p.h. fastball over the plate. He took it for strike three.
Over the first five innings, Buchholz unofficially threw 39 fastballs, only 18 of which were strikes.
When Carl Crawford reached base on a one-out single in the first inning, Buchholz paid close attention to him, and with good reason. Crawford is one of the game’s best basestealers and this season he is again among the league’s leaders, with eight.
So with Gomes, the Rays’ designated hitter, at the plate, Buchholz threw over to first base five times during the course of the at-bat in an effort to keep Crawford close.
Buchholz also made use of the slide-step in his delivery out of the stretch to the plate.
He was effective on two counts – keeping Crawford from running and getting out Gomes.
Crawford wasn’t able to attempt a steal, and Buchholz whiffed Gomes. The impressive part of the strikeout was that Buchholz caught Gomes looking at a curveball for strike three.
When using a slide-step, curveballs have a tendency to flatten out because it is more difficult for the pitcher to get on top of the ball. Instead of being able to throw over the top for the curve, as Buchholz generally does, the arm angle may slip down a little so the ball doesn’t break down sharply on a downward plane, it remains on more of a flat plane.
Buchholz, though, was able to maintain good curveball-throwing mechanics despite using the slide-step, and buckled Gomes’ knees with the breaking ball for the punchout.
Moss, playing right field, put a nice charge on Jason Bartlett’s liner to right-center with runners at first and second and two outs in the second and racked up his second assist of the year.
Moss was playing shallow for the Rays’ number nine hitter. He got the ball on the second hop. And even though he took an extra hop-step, his throw home was strong and accurate, nailing Longoria trying to score from second, keeping it a 0-0 game.
Crawford overestimated his speed and took an unnecessary gamble in running into a double play that ended the fifth.
He was perched on third with one out and the Rays losing, 6-1. Gomes hit a grounder to third, forcing Crawford back to the bag a step.
Nevertheless, despite the fact his momentum had shifted him back to third, and despite the fact that the Rays were down by five runs, Crawford took off for home as Mike Lowell threw to first. Kevin Youkilis, the Sox’ first baseman, received Lowell’s throw for the out there, and then threw home where Varitek, Boston’s catcher, slapped a tag on Crawford for a double play.
A light but steady rain has been falling for some time at Fenway, bad enough to cause a delay.
A Red Sox official said the rain is likely to remain in the area until about 8 p.m.
For now, the tarp remains on the field and very few fans are in the stands. We will update as warranted.
For what it's worth, the Sox are not as excited as they have been in the past to play the Rays. Boston is 61-23 all-time against the Rays at Fenway. The Rays swept the Sox last weekend in Florida and have won four in a row going back to last season, equalling their longest winning streak ever against Boston.
BOSTON _ Curt Schilling could be back throwing a baseball again soon.
``Very soon,’’ Schilling said today after he completed a workout at Fenway.
The veteran, who at one point was feared to be lost for the season, was upbeat as he spoke about what he has been doing and what his immediate future could be.
``I feel strong. I feel great. I feel everything I’m supposed to feel,’’ Schilling said.
The 41-year-old right-hander signed a one-year $8 million deal with the Sox in November. But a major problem with his throwing shoulder was discovered before the start of spring training. There even was some discussion about the Red Sox possibly voiding the deal.
Today, though, all was positive both from Schilling and manager Terry Francona, who reported that Schilling is set to be measured, as he described it, this weekend.
``That may lead to him starting to throw the ball,’’ Francona said. ``We’ll see.’’
Schilling received a cortisone shot in February, rather than undergoing surgery. He reported all has been on the improve ever since. He has undergone numerous tests.
``We’ve done a bunch of them. They’ve continued to improve on every single time,’’ Schilling reported.
``Today is like a light day,’’ he said. ``We’re alternating heavy and light days. The heavy days just got immensely heavy, so the light days are much lighter. We’ve come to realize a ways through this that every time I have an off day I’m immensely better the following day.
``The workload on my heavy days is excessive. There is no pain. No stamina issues. No strength loss. No lingering effects, which is a huge plus.’’
There is one more step to take.
``I haven’t thrown yet. That’s the big piece of this,’’ he said. ``I don’t envision, with the amount of work that we’ve done and things that we’re doing, that I’m going to come back and start throwing and it’s not going to work. I think we’re set now to go for an extended period of time with me throwing and getting more amped up on the throwing side of things to see how far we can take it.’’
Most days, Schilling has done his work early in the day and been gone by 2 p.m. when his teammates arrive.
``I’m here and done most days by like 2,’’ he related. ``It’s weird. It’s very uncomfortable. I try and impact the guys on this team that I’m close with at time when we can talk away from everybody, then I go do my thing.’’
The goal is not just to be able to pitch, but to be effective.
``It’s not just about me getting healthy and coming back. I have to be good,’’ he said.
``Last time I looked, this rotation didn’t have a hole it in. There are a lot of different scenarios that might come about, with innings limits for guys and things. But I’ve got to come back and be good. I can’t just get healthy and come back and expect to come back and have a spot.’’
Schilling has enjoyed watching the way the Sox rotation has developed this season, even without him.
``These guys are all very good to great,’’ he said.
Schilling spoke about how he would not be putting himself through the process if he did not have confidence he would be able to pitch again.
``I’ve never thought otherwise,'' he said. ``If I didn’t believe absolutely that I’d have the ball in a World Series game I wouldn’t be doing this.’’
Coco Crisp, who is nursing a sore left knee and a tight right hamstring, is out of the starting lineup, leaving Brandon Moss to replace ailing J.D. Drew in right.
Crisp said his hamstring actually loosens up and feels better as a game goes along, but that his knee gets stiffer as the innings go by, especially given the cold weather that the Sox have endured this week on the homestand.
Crisp was smiling about his "extra" at-bat Thursday night. Crisp lofted what appeared to be the game-ending fly ball to shallow right field, but the pitch was waved off when second base umpire Bruce Dreckman called Toronto left-hander B.J. Ryan for a balk on that delivery to the plate.
So Crisp, spared an 0-for-4 at least momentarily, got back in the box. He made the second chance pay off, lining a single to right.
Jacoby Ellsbury is back in center field, leading off for the Sox tonight in the series opener against the Rays at Fenway Park.
He had missed the previous three games because of a sore groin.
Boston manager Terry Francona went out of his way to say he wasn't calling out Ellsbury, but he engaged in a discussion of the difference between pain and injury in this afternoon's media gathering.
"There's a fine line," said Francona. "You're not always going to be 100 percent. We can't wait for guys to be 100 percent. If we did, we couldn't field a team. There's a responsibility (to play). They're protective (of players and their aches and pains) in the minors and they're supposed to be. We try to be (also), but every game here is a big deal."
Francona again mentioned that Ellsbury thought he'd be ready to play after the day off on Monday, but he wasn't, intimating that he thought the rookie should have come in on Monday for treatment. Francona said the situation has given him and his staff an opportunity to talk to Ellsbury, as they do with all young players, in trying to educate them about the way things are done in the big leagues.
Francona brought up outfielder Coco Crisp, who played the last two nights despite a sore knee, as an example of doing what needs to be done even if a player isn't 100 percent.
Of course, then there's J.D. Drew, another outfielder, who has been sidelined because of a sore quadriceps and has the reputation as being a player who won't play with pain. Drew left Tuesday night's game after one at-bat and hasn't resurfaced, though Francona indicated he might return to the lineup tomorrow.
Pretty brash headline today on the official Web site of the Tampa Bay Rays: "Rays aim for second sweep of Red Sox." Let's submit right off the top that the boys from Tampa should win the first game, or better yet the first two games, of the series before they start thinking about sweeps. On the other hand, the Rays have reason for a little swagger as they visit Fenway Park for the first time this season. Tampa Bay took three straight from the Red Sox last weekend, their pitching seemed to start Boston on its current offensive tailspin, and the Rays open the series percentage points ahead of the Red Sox for first place in the American League East. Their three wins in three tries against Boston puts them just two wins short of equalling their total in 18 games against the Sox last season. And if they win tonight, they'll be five games over .500 for the first time in franchise history.
Devil Rays blogger R.J. Anderson reports that, "more and more Rays gear is being worn and bought around town and by all indications the doubters are starting to go to the park in order to question Joe Maddon's philosophies instead of staying home."
In the last few years, the Rays have had an OK offense coupled with horrendous pitching. So far this year, they have middling offensive stats, while the pitching has actually carried the load. Even in the absence of ace starter Scott Kazmir (expected to make his first start of the season this weekend), the Rays are second in the American League in team E.R.A. (3.61) and first in the major leagues in bullpen E.R.A. (2.44). Tampa Bay pitchers have surrendered fewer hits (218) than any other American League team's staff, and only three A.L. teams have walked fewer batters (90). And it's not like they've been facing weak offenses either -- their schedule has featured six games against the Yankees, three against the Red Sox, three against the high-payroll Seattle Mariners and three against the AL Central-leading White Sox.
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: the bizarre balk call that prolonged last night's game (I had already turned the thing off...); the Red Sox' abysmal offensive showing this week; a showdown series against ... Tampa Bay; and the injury problems down in the Bronx.
So the stark reality that's been somewhat masked by the ninth-inning miracles of the previous two nights is now staring the glum Red Sox (above) in the face: They ain't hittin' (Boston Herald). (Check out the linescore of the last 50 innings from Joy of Sox.) As Rob Bradford points out in the Herald piece, Sox batters have struck out almost as many times (33) as they've reached base via hit or walk (37) in the last five games. The "You have to tip your hat to the opposing pitcher" rationale is wearing thin after five consecutive games in which they've scored four runs.
DRAMA KINGS: Can't say April (or the two days in March in which they also played games that count) was too cruel for the Red Sox, though. It started on Opening Day -- Night? Morning? -- in Tokyo when Brandon Moss' ninth-inning homer off A's closer Huston Street sparked the Sox to a come-from-behind, extra-inning win, and it continued all through the end of April as Boston won no fewer than eight games by scoring runs in the eighth inning or later. Our own Mike McDermott yesterday put together a slide show of all eight games.
MONTH OF NOTHING: ESPN.com's Jayson Stark doesn't mention the Sox, positively or negatively, in his April recap.
ON THE CLOCK: McAdam and Kenyon report that word on the Sox' potential spring move to Sarasota may come sooner rather than later. It's the lead of a newsy notebook that includes items on David Ortiz' ailing knee, other injury details, Terry Francona praising Brandon Moss, and a kudo for the Sox' farm department.
CONGRATULATIONS . . . to our own Joe McDonald, who's in Salisbury, N.C., this weekend to pick up his award as Rhode Island's 2007 Sports Writer of the Year for his work on the Red Sox and PawSox, among other assignments. And kudos to PawSox play-by-play man Steve Hyder, named the R.I. Sportscaster of the Year.
BOSTON -- Another game, more poor baserunning by the faltering Blue Jays.
With usually heady David Eckstein on second and Scott Rolen on first and the Jays ahead, 1-0, with none out in the fifth, Matt Stairs lofted a ball toward the wall.
Eckstein wasn’t sure if Coco Crisp would track it down, so he didn’t break hard for third. Instead, he hung close to second, looking as if he might tag up if the catch were made.
Crisp, though, turned to look at the wall, making it obvious he wasn’t going to catch it and would have to play it off the Monster. At that point, Eckstein took off.
Crisp caught a break when the ball hit the lip of the scoreboard and popped in the air right to him. While Eckstein was streaking toward third, Rolen had his head down and rounded second base, expecting to steam into third base.
Eckstein’s belated jump, though, put him in jeopardy of scoring. As he rounded third, the coach there, Marty Pevey, was pointing to the third-base bag, telling Rolen to stand up as he got to the bag, figuring Eckstein was past him and on his way home.
Eckstein, however, put the brakes on as he zipped a few feet past the bag and down the line.
The upshot was that Eckstein and Rolen both were at third base. Eckstein eventually was put out in a rundown as Stairs took second.
So instead of a run in, a 2-0 lead and runners at first and third with none out and number five hitter Vernon Wells coming up, Toronto had runners at second and third and one out and still a 1-0 lead. Wells hit a sacrifice fly to center, making it 2-0, but the messed-up baserunning cost the Blue Jays at least a run in the inning.
One night earlier, pinch runners Marco Scutaro (failure to tag up) and John McDonald (picked off) hurt the Jays with baserunning mistakes.
It could have happened even with Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the order.
But with Ellsbury on the bench for the three-game series against the Blue Jays because of a sore groin, the Sox had to find a replacement for him in the leadoff spot in the batting order.
Ellsbury has an on-base percentage of .396.
The on-base percentage of the Sox’ leadoff hitters against Toronto was .000 – 0 for 12.
Coco Crisp went 0 for 4 in the opener of the series. Dustin Pedroia led off the last two games and went 0 for 4 in each game.
The Blue Jays, having trouble getting clutch hits in going 1-7 on the first eight games of their road trip, turned their attention last night to the stolen-base game against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
Eckstein walked with one out in the first inning. On the 0-and-1 pitch to Rolen, Eckstein took a few steps toward second but stopped, realizing he hadn’t gotten a great jump. Unfortunately for Eckstein and the Jays, Rolen hit that pitch on the ground up the middle. Dustin Pedroia grabbed the ball, stepped on the bag and fired to first for the double play.
If Eckstein had continued on his stolen-base attempt, Pedroia might not have been able to turn the two.
In the third, the Jays’ Alex Rios swiped second on a one-out bloop single to right-center. Most of the time, the opposition gets to steal on a knuckleball, in the 64-68 m.p.h. range, which puts the catcher at a disadvantage, both for the fluttering nature of the pitch and the lack of speed.
Rios actually went on a 2-and-0 fastball (73) and made it safely when catcher Kevin Cash couldn’t get a good grip on the ball. The stolen base paid off when Rolen threaded a two-out single through the right side.
Toronto’s plan to run on Wakefield continued in the fourth. Shannon Stewart swiped second with two outs and raced to third when Cash’s throw sailed into center field. Stewart was left stranded.
If you didn’t know better, you might have thought it was Doug Mirabelli back behind the plate last night catching Wakefield.
When Matt Stairs hit a soft foul popup with two outs in the third, Cash took off his mask, tracked down the ball to the left of home plate and made the catch without throwing aside his mask. That was one of Mirabelli’s trademarks, hanging onto the mask as he one-handed the foul popups.
The more prescribed method is to find the ball and throw the mask as far away as necessary to make sure it isn’t stepped on as the catch is made.
When a team is in a slump, sometimes a manager tries to reach too deeply into the bag of tricks to find something that works.
Toronto manager John Gibbons fell into that category in the ninth.
Already leading, 3-0, the Jays had runners at first and second with none out. Lyle Overbay, hardly a speedster, was at second. Gibbons called for a hit-and-run with Eckstein at the plate.
Normally Eckstein is one of the best at getting the bat on the ball for a hit-and-run or a squeeze. But he was unable to get a piece of a tough sinker from Javier Lopez, missing the ball. Catcher Kevin Cash easily threw out Overbay at third base.
Gibbons called for the play because he had a lot of confidence in Eckstein’s ability to get the bat on the ball, but with runners at first and second and none out while boasting a 3-0 lead? Against a pitcher who had faced two batters and given up two hits?
It seemed as if Gibbons was trying to force something good to happen when he really didn’t need to, given the circumstance. A bunt might have been a better call because there would have been less risk.
Brandon Moss is likely to be with Boston only temporarily. It is very likely that when the team's health situation improves, Moss will be back in Pawtucket.
Still, in the long run, Moss could benefit from his experiences with the parent team this season.
Moss had one of the hits in the ninth inning in Wednesday night’s victory. The lefty singled up the middle against southpaw Scott Downs. Moss, who was recalled when Sean Casey went on the disabled list, is at .286 (4-for-14), including a home run in the Tokyo Dome.
``He’s an interesting player,’’ manager Terry Francona said when asked about the 24-year-old who was Pawtucket’s MVP last season. ``He’s a good outfielder. Actually, he can play center, although I don’t think that’s his every day position. You can put him there. He can play the corners. He’s fine. Can he play first base (the position the Sox want him to play in Pawtucket this season)? All of a sudden you’ve got a young left-handed hitter who can play three or four positions and hit a fastball. That’s pretty valuable.’’
The Red Sox have made no secret of their focus on developing their own players. The scouting department has a big reason to be smiling right now.
The team did research on what took place last week, when Craig Hansen was briefly recalled. He was drafted in 2005. So were Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie. They were all taken in the first four rounds.
According to the researchers, it marked the first time any team has ever had its top four draft choices in the majors together, and all appearing for at least one game, within three years of the draft.
Terry Francona sounds as much like a doctor as the Red Sox manager in his pre-game press conferences these days. Today was a perfect example.
``Doctor’’ Francona had mostly good news to report on his ``patients.’’
Jacoby Ellsbury is not yet ready to start, but he is out on the field doing some work as we speak. He has had a groin problem.
``He feels it getting better. We’ll know more when he runs around,’’ Francona said.
J.D. Drew also was on the field testing his ailing quad.
``He’s doing some shagging,’’ Franconca said. ``We’ll see where that leads.’’
And then there is David Ortiz’ knee.
``He’s on the elliptical right,’’ Francona related. ``He’s OK. I think he’s just sore. He knows he can't just come and play the game any more. He doesn't have that freedom. He knows that.’’
Ortiz is learning, the manager said, that he has to do pre-game work to get himself ready. At his age and size, he is simply going to have to deal with some aches and pains in his knee.
``He can’t come and just play the game,’’ Franconca said of Ortiz putting in work before the game.
Coco Crisp, who also had knee concerns, will play.
``He’s a little sore,’’ Francona said. ``He’s OK to play or we wouldn’t play him. We would do something different.’’
Two lineup moves tonight are not medically related. Since Tim Wakefield is pitching (he was working on a crossword puzzle just now) Kevin Cash will catch. Also, Julio Lugo is 3-for-17 in his career against A.J. Burnett the Toronto starter. Jed Lowrie needs work, so Lowrie will play short.
``It just seemed like a good day to do it,'' Francona said, for once sounding more like a manager than a doctor.''
For the month of April, plus the two games played against Oakland in Japan, the Red Sox have won eight games in which they scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning or later. That compares to just three such victories last season, when the Red Sox were a little less dramatic and more methodical in roaring out of the gate on their World Series championship season.
We've put together a photo gallery looking back on the eight dramatic wins, plus the equally dramatic rain-soaked game in Boston in which the Sox held off a Yankee comeback. Click here to view the gallery.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Another dramatic victory
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: A fourth consecutive fine pitching performance offsetting the general offensive futility, Toronto's penchant for beating itself, the latest injury news and the advantages of a potential spring-training move to Sarasota.
TAKE TWO: Twenty-four hours had passed, and the situation was almost identical: Great pitchers' duel. Tie game. Runners at first and second. Bottom of the ninth. But this time, as Sean McAdam writes, it took two singles to center, not one, to drive in the winning run. After pinch-runner Jed Lowrie was thrown out at the plate by Vernon Wells on Brandon Moss' first attempt to end things, Jason Varitek (above, being congratulated by first-base coach Luis Alicea) delivered Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox had their second straight walkoff win over the Blue Jays, 2-1. The postgame celebration, writes the Globe's Amalie Benjamin, mirrored the one from the night before, even if the principles were a little different. Lost in the afterglow was another good starting-pitching performance, this one from Daisuke Matsuzaka (seven innings, two hits, no runs), whom Jim Rice thinks is poised for a 20-win season (ask14.sullivantire.com) and whom Tom Hanks thinks would be a great subject for a movie. (afp.google.com)
They're still not hitting or scoring much -- yesterday's two-run output was their highest since last Friday, and they've scored a grand total of four runs in their last four games -- but their pitching has been lights out; how else could they be 2-2 over that span? And how else could they be back in first place (projo.com) despite such feeble production? Goes to show that when you can pitch -- and the ProJo Fantasy Sports Blog's pitcher rankings show the Sox can pitch, all right -- you've always got a chance.
SPRING AWAKENING? The offensive catalyst at last was David Ortiz, who homered in the seventh and kick-started the game-winning rally with a single in the ninth. The Herald's Alex Speier says "he’s showing signs [of] coming around" despite the .184 batting average he takes out of the month of April.
GO FIGURE: Terry Francona didn't run for Ortiz on Tuesday night and the big guy managed to lumber home from second base with the game-winning run on Kevin Youkilis' single. Francona did send in Lowrie to run for him last night, and Lowrie got nailed at the plate. That dichotomy, and the reason behind it, is the lead item in Steven Krasner's Inside The Game, which also includes items on Manny Delcarmen's continuing struggles and a brain cramp by Marco Scutaro that could have cost the Jays in the eighth. The online-only version contains an item on Dustin Pedroia sterling defense at second base. (ProJo Sox Blog)
LOOKING FOR NEW DIGS: The news that the Sox may move their spring-training base to Sarasota -- their spring home for most of the 1930s, '40s and '50s -- when their deal with Fort Myers expires after 2011 is the lead item in McAdam and Krasner's notebook. The ABC7 Sports Blog in Fort Myers says not to worry, the Sox aren't going anywhere, but seems to base that bravado solely on the team's string of sellouts -- something that would probably happen anywhere they played -- while almost completely ignoring the fact that the Sox a) would like to house their minor-league spring operations together with their major-league program, which they can't do in Fort Myers because of a lack of land, and b) have their Florida State League affiliate play at their spring-training facility, which they also can't do at Fort Myers because the Twins own the territory.
IT'S NOT QUITE THE SAME AS FINDING A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK: So you bought something at Jordan's Furniture in the hopes of cashing in if the Red Sox sweep the World Series? The Wall Street Journal puts the odds of you winning this "bet" at between two and five percent.
DON'T JUST SIT THERE, DO SOMETHING! The struggling Blue Jays need something to shake them up, but general manager J.P. Ricciardi says the only thing anyone ever asks for in trade talks is pitching . . . so therefore he's not about to make any trades. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
GOOD NEWS AT LAST: The ABC7 Sports Blog is the first to defend Roger Clemens -- sort of -- when it points out that it's highly unlikely Clemens met Mindy McCready at a Fort Myers bar when she was 15 in 1991, as reported by the New York Daily News and confirmed by McCready herself. The Red Sox still trained at Winter Haven at the time and it's extremely unlikely he made the Sox' only trip to Fort Myers that spring. (He didn't pitch in the game against the Twins, and starting pitchers almost never travel with the team to away games -- especially those that are 2 1/2 hours away -- if they're not working.) Whether it's a case of McCready lying (as the blog insinuates) or simply a matter of being off by a year or two on the timeframe (as McCready's mother indicates) remains to be seen.
RESUME FIRING: But Clemens and his defenders had almost no time to enjoy this rare bit of relief, as the Daily News now links him with John Daly's ex-wife.
AND A BABE SHALL LEAD YOU: Speaking of Clemens, David Pinto of Baseball Musings thinks Braves farmhand Jordan Schafer -- suspended for use of performance-enhancing drugs -- is doing just what Clemens should have done: Answering "No comment" to any and all inquires about his penalty and his use of PEDs.
COULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN FROM MY LIBRARY: I've read -- and own -- most of the titles in the Bronx Banter's list of essential baseball books. As a personal aside, I think You Know Me Al, which I've just been rereading, should be listed a little higher . . . although I don't know if it's as much "essential" as it is "enjoyable."
THE DEBATE: Two members of the mainstream media with strong online presences -- Joe Posnanski and Peter Abraham -- weigh on in Bob Costa's HBO special about sports media, specifically the part about bloggers and Buzz Bissinger's full frontal attack on Deadspin's Will Leitch, which Leitch chronicles here. Abraham does a great job of explaining the integration of new media by traditional media outlets and why it so angers/frightens many traditionalists. Posnanski -- as usual -- is insightful and elegant as he points out that many of the old writers Bissinger used in his anti-online diatribe would probably be writing blogs today if they'd come of age in this era: "Newspapers are shrinking. Magazines are shrinking. Opportunities in the mainstream are shrinking. Shrinkage is the word. But the Internet is wide open. If [W.C.] Heinz was young, he would be writing words on the Internet just like everyone else, and he would probably have his own blog, and it would be wonderful, and cranky old people would be screaming about Heinz in pajamas."
Great stuff. And must-reads if you're at all interesting in the changing information landscape.