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.